European Super League: Fans group have their say on revamped 80-team project
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A22, the company formed to assist in the creation of the original Super League project in 2021, has unveiled plans for a new competition played across multiple divisions and involving up to 80 teams. A22 said the competition would be open, and that there would be no permanent members, in contrast to the 2021 version which collapsed within 72 hours of launch amid fan protests and opposition from UEFA, FIFA and even the British Government.
The new plans were dismissed by Kevin Miles, the chief executive of the Football Supporters' Association in England, who said: “The walking corpse that is the European Super League twitches again with all the self-awareness one associates with a zombie. Their newest idea is to have an 'open competition' rather than the closed shop they originally proposed that led to huge fan protests.
“Of course an open competition for Europe's top clubs already exists – it's called the Champions League. They say 'dialogue with fans and independent fan groups is essential' yet the European Zombie League marches on – wilfully ignorant to the contempt supporters across the continent have for it."
A22 says it has consulted with nearly 50 European clubs to develop 10 principles which underpin its new plans for the competition. However, it has not disclosed the names of any of those clubs, with A22 chief executive Bernd Reichart saying it is clear "clubs are often unable to publicly speak up against a system where the threat of sanctions is used to stifle opposition".
A22 has challenged UEFA and FIFA's right to block the formation of their competition and to sanction the 12 clubs involved in the original Super League in the European courts. It argues those governing bodies abused a dominant position under EU law by acting as they did.
A final judgement in the case is expected from the European Court of Justice later this year, but a non-binding opinion published in December by the Advocate General in the case said UEFA and FIFA rules allowing them to block new competitions were compatible with EU law.
The new proposals talked about a guarantee of a minimum 14 matches per season for the clubs involved, strict cost controls linked to revenue and a pledge to put the women's game "at the centre" of its plans. However, there remain lots of unanswered questions.
When might the competition start? How would teams be selected for the inaugural competition? How would teams would qualify for, and be eliminated from, the competition in subsequent years? How many seasons might teams in the top tier of the new competition expect to be guaranteed European football for, before having to rely on domestic performance to qualify again, and what would be the impact of all this on domestic leagues?
It is understood that A22 plans to develop such detail in further dialogue with clubs, and aims to present it after the final court rulings. There are also no clear plans yet for how the competition will be governed, other than that it should be governed by the clubs, and plans related to the ratio of prize money between teams in the top division compared to the bottom one are still being developed.
It is understood that there has been no official consultation yet between A22 and potential broadcasters, but A22 is understood to be confident it could secure start-up investment for its competition even in economic conditions which are much tougher than they were in 2021.
LaLiga president Javier Tebas dismissed the plans in a typically colourful tweet. “The Super League is the wolf, who today disguises himself as a granny to try to fool European football,” he posted on the social media site.
“But HIS nose and HIS teeth are very big. Four divisions in Europe? Of course the first for them (the big clubs), as in the 2019 reform. Government of the clubs? Of course only the big ones.”
The European Club Association – which represents the interests of teams under UEFA jurisdiction – called the latest update "a rehashed idea already proposed, discussed and comprehensively rejected by all stakeholders".
A statement read: “This is just another deliberately distorted and misleading attempt to destabilise the constructive work currently taking place between football's real stakeholders to move things forward in the overall best interests of the European club game. We have moved on, when will A22?”