Twelve of Europe’s biggest football clubs have announced that they have agreed to set up a new mid-week competition, the Super League. This group plans to add three additional clubs as Founders before the inaugural season. The league format states that it will be a competition between 20 teams – 15 founders and 5 annual qualifiers.
The Super League does not require clubs to leave their respective national leagues. The founding clubs believe that this move comes at a critical time as the pandemic has accelerated the instability in the European football economic model. The league, which has seen an infusion of about US$5bn from JP Morgan aims to improve the quality and intensity of European competitions by establishing a platform where top clubs and players can contest on a regular basis.
However, the Super League proposal is facing a lot of backlash from authorities and governing bodies. When rumors of this league sparked up in January, FIFA was quick to spell out that it would not recognize any such breakaway league and any club or player involved in such a competition would, therefore, not be allowed to participate in any competition organized by FIFA or their respective confederation, including the World Cup.
A joint statement by UEFA, along with the national football associations of all the clubs involved read, “We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit; it cannot be any other way. The clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.”
No German or French clubs were involved in the Super League’s formation, and their national associations reiterated that the Economic interests of a few top European clubs shall not be allowed to damage their established structures.
Fans and experts across Europe too have condemned the formation of this competition. Manchester United legend Gary Neville expressed his views and said, “I’m not against the modernisation of football competition, but to bring forward proposals in the wake of Covid is an absolute scandal. United and the rest of the big six clubs that have signed up to it should be ashamed of themselves.” Fans who are citing this ‘scandal’ as the death of football believe that such a move would blow away the hopes of smaller clubs who have the potential to rise up in this echelon and play against the top clubs of their countries.
Here’s a look at the 12 clubs who have agreed to be a part of the controversial Super League:
1. AC Milan
Founded in 1899, the Italian club have agreed to be a part of the upcoming Super League which has been termed a ‘coup’ by their fans.
The Gunners are in the firing range as critics of the Super League were quick to demand as to why a team struggling in 9th in the Premier League, who drew their last match against Fulham, want to a more competitive platform to play their game.
3. Atletico Madrid
Though the Spanish club are yet to issue a statement, they have been confirmed as one of the Founders of the Super League. The debt-laden club have a huge opportunity as each of the clubs will receive a €3.5bn grant. Their manager, Diego Simone, said, “I am a coach, and I am prepared to train with my players wherever I’m told. I have no doubt that the club will decide what is best for us.”
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The Stamford Bridge-based club have agreed to be a part of this revolution. A Chelsea Supporters’ Trust spokesperson said, “We are appalled that Chelsea FC are among the rumoured clubs who have allegedly signed up to a “Super League” as it would destroy open competition for financial gain. This proposal demonstrates the greed within football and as supporters, we are tired of the beautiful game being abused.”
5. FC Barcelona
The new Copa Del Ray champions have joined hands with the other 11 clubs to form the Super League. Former President of the club, Josep Maria Bartomeu, had announced the club’s participation in this league as early as in October last year.
The Nerazzuri have followed the Rossoneri into the Super League and released an official statement to confirm their presence as one of its founding members.
Juventus joined the Super League wholeheartedly, with the club president Andrea Agnelli also the league’s Vice-President. Agnelli said, “Our 12 Founder clubs represent billions of fans across the globe and 99 European trophies. We have come together at this critical moment, enabling European competition to be transformed, putting the game we love on a sustainable footing for the long-term future, substantially increasing solidarity, and giving fans and amateur players a regular flow of headline fixtures that will feed their passion for the game while providing them with engaging role models.”
People are mocking the club’s motto, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, as the club have decided to become part of the Super League. Former Liverpool player Danny Murphy said, “When I became a Liverpool player, I wanted to win the things those teams had done, to show I was as good as they were. That history, that tradition – all of those things that have grown since Liverpool Football Club formed in 1892 – would disappear if they joined this proposed breakaway European Super League and were banned from the Premier League. Everything that makes Liverpool the institution it is would be lost. If they leave domestic competition for this, what happens to the decades-long rivalry with Manchester United over who has won the most titles? Do the things that mattered when I put on that red shirt suddenly not matter anymore? Where do they go?”
9. Manchester City
There is speculation that Manchester City were reluctant to join the Super League, but nonetheless the club have released a statement affirming their association to the move that has shaken the entire football community. Manchester City fans were extremely disappointed with this decision of the club and took to Twitter to express their condemnation.
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10. Manchester United
Joel Glazer, co-chairman of Manchester United and vice chairman of the Super League, said: “By bringing together the world’s greatest clubs and players to play each other throughout the season, the Super League will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world-class competition and facilities, and increased financial support for the wider football pyramid.”
However, former United player Rio Ferdinand expressed his disapproval to the move and said, “I am embarrassed. There’s been so many things thrown at the owners over the past few years, but this situation now – to be a part of that group that want to break away and leave everybody for dead – that’s an embarrassment. I can’t believe it. I am sorry, I am a Man United fan, I love the club, but I can’t stand by and support something like that at all.”
11. Real Madrid
Florentino Pérez, President of Real Madrid and the first chairman of the Super League said: “We will help football at every level and take it to its rightful place in the world. Football is the only global sport in the world with more than four billion fans and our responsibility as big clubs is to respond to their desires.”
12. Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs were the brunt of all jokes regarding the Super League, as many believe the club do not have what it takes to compete with the elite clubs of Europe. The fans too disapprove of this move, with the words ‘shame on you’ and ‘disgrace’ been making the rounds on the internet.