The Super League, now commonly referred to as the European Super League (ESL), was a proposed European football competition consisting of 15 founding clubs and at least five additional qualifying teams. Planned as a breakaway competition set to rival the biggest club competition in the sport, the Super League promised to controversially free its founding members from the threat of relegation while generating new lucrative revenue streams solely for the clubs involved.
How did it start?
The Super League proposal was initiated on 18 April 2021 through press release announcements sent out by the 12 founding clubs. Brought forward as a competition which would help the top clubs of Europe recover lost earnings due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while also appealing to a broader audience of younger viewers, the Super League was met with a wall of harsh criticism and widespread disdain.
Which clubs were involved?
The 12 founding members of the European Super League including all of England’s “Big-Six” along with three Italian teams and three Spanish clubs:
- Manchester United
- Manchester City
- Inter Milan
- AC Milan
- Atletico Madrid
- Real Madrid
Which clubs refused to join?
Spots to join the European Super League’s 15 founding members were rejected by some of the biggest teams on the continent. In Germany, the Super League proposal was quickly turned down by the likes of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig. These three sides rejected the idea of any plans which could weaken the UEFA Champions League and other national competitions.
France’s Paris Saint-German also publicly condemned the competition, while other unmentioned French, Portuguese and Dutch clubs reportedly rejected the invitation to join the Super League.
The Super League proposal was immediately met with furious opposition. Fans and clubs from all around Europe tore into the project, labeling it as a self-serving competition which promised to only take the spirit of the game out of football. The breakaway endeavour was particularly slated for removing the demotion aspect from the competition, making it one of football’s only leagues without a relegation/promotion system.
The competition was also set to feature uncapped solidarity payments to the 15 founding clubs which would have been substantially higher than those of existing European competitions.
Unsurprisingly, UEFA issued a damning response to the Super League competition, threatening the harshest legal action they could against the 12 signed up Super League clubs. UEFA were expected to exclude three of the Super League clubs – Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester City – from the 20/21 Champions League, as well as Arsenal and Manchester United from the 20/21 UEFA Europa League.
Players of the Super League clubs were also threatened with expulsion from national competitions, including the World Cup and the upcoming UEFA Euro 2020 (2021) tournament.
The end of the Super League?
Following widespread condemnation, fan outrage and protests around Europe, Super League founding clubs quickly began to back out of the project. Apology statements were quickly issued by the teams involved, as many of the club owners attempted to shoulder the sole blame of the disgraced endeavour.
When asked whether the project could still happen in the future, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez told Spanish radio show El Larguero: “If anyone thinks the Super League is dead, are they wrong? Absolutely.”
“We’re going to keep working and what everyone thinks is for the best will emerge.”
“The project is on standby. The Super League still exists.”
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