The idea of the best players in the world, who are spread across Europe’s biggest clubs, playing against one another on a regular basis is hardly a novel idea.
Creating a European Super League has also been mooted for decades, and certainly long before last week’s announcement from Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur (the Big Six).
The would-be Super League, as a competition, would have seen the biggest teams in Europe play one another much more regularly than we see in the UEFA Champions League. For example, the 12 clubs that signed up to the Super League, in ten years of Champions League matches played against one another 90 times. In the Super League, each team would play every other team (home and away), meaning the 12 teams would meet 81 times (in aggregate) in just one season.
The suggestion of the best players in the world playing against one another regularly has caused some to question, why the Super League isn’t a good idea.
The published plans for the would-be Super League created a closed shop of members with no promotion or relegation. The Super League member clubs would also share in the riches. It also seems unlikely those monies would flow through the football system fairly. Football fans therefore feared they were heading towards an American style sports system, whereby only the elite sports clubs survive, leaving the lower leagues without the finance needed to continue.
The pressure from fans across the game, including the fans of the Big Six, proved too much to handle. Within 48 hours, all six clubs withdrew from the Super League competition and their respective chairmen issued groveling apologies to their fans.
A Binding Contract
Reportedly JP Morgan agreed to underwrite the Super League to the sum of £2.8 billion, secured by the broadcasting fees from the competition.
Florentino Perez, the Real Madrid President, has also publicly stated that all of the founding members of the Super League, including the Big Six, have signed a binding contract and, for that reason ,the competition will go ahead soon.
Asked when he thinks the Super League will go ahead, Florentino Perez stated: “you have to do it as quickly as possible, but first you have to explain the project to people in good faith”. Perez also defended the pursuit of a European Super League as necessary to “save football” during a “critical moment”.
The Premier League Rules
The Premier League joined forces with The FA in issuing an initial statement, slamming the Big Six for their actions. Little has followed from the Premier League since.
Premier League Rule L.9 states that:
“Except with the prior written approval of the Board, during the Season a Club shall not enter or play its senior men’s first team in any competition other than:
- The UEFA Champions League;
- The UEFA Europa League;
- THE FA Cup;
- THE FA Community Shield;
- The Football League Cup; or
- Competitions sanctioned by the County Association of which it is a member.”
Clearly the Bix Six’s announcement last week places them in clear breach of the Premier League Rules. The directors of Everton Football Club, and many others, have been very willing to publicly request for the Premier League to take action and severely sanction the Big Six.
It is likely this matter will be brought before a private arbitration to decide the appropriate punishment, a panel that is likely to consist of the country’s most experienced sports lawyers.
It seems inevitable that the Big Six will face litigation from every angle, starting from the contracts that have allegedly been signed between the members of the Super League and its financiers/sponsors. This is likely to be a substantial contractual dispute.
The Premier League will also have to take action against the Big Six for breaching the Premier League Rules. The sanctions faced by the Big Six from the Premier League alone are unlimited, and could consist of significant fines and even a points deduction.
The Premier League are already under extreme pressure by its other members (i.e. the other Premier League clubs) to do all that is necessary to protect the integrity of the sport and the Premier League competition.
It is safe to say this debacle will continue to be debated for many months to come. What is almost as certain, is that a wave of change in football is on the horizon and possibly for the good; but this will however, depend on whether the Big Six begin to act in good faith and in collaboration with the Premier League, the Football Association and UEFA.
‘Just relegate them’: Fans discuss England’s ‘big six’ after the ESL farce