Uefa ends efforts to punish breakaway European Super League teams – Financial Times - Techy Hunters


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Uefa ends efforts to punish breakaway European Super League teams – Financial Times

European football’s governing body has been forced to end efforts to punish Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Juventus over their efforts to launch a Super League, as the rebel clubs push ahead with a legal case that threatens to shake up the running of the game.

Uefa announced on Monday night that its disciplinary proceedings against the three clubs were “null and void, as if [they] had never been opened”. 

The decision means the trio will not face the threat of severe penalties, which included a potential two-year ban from the Champions League, Europe’s top football competition, where €2bn is shared between participating clubs each season.

The climbdown came as the result of a lawsuit, originally brought in April by the 12 rich European clubs that had signed up to join a new continental contest in which they would be granted permanent places, backed by €3.25bn in debt financing from US investment bank JPMorgan Chase. 

The radical concept represented a fundamental break with the “pyramid” structure of the world’s favourite sport, under which even the smallest teams can aspire to climb to elite status. But the project appeared to collapse within days, as nine of the clubs quickly declared they had pulled out following fierce protests from fans, pundits and politicians.

Uefa has since agreed a peace deal with those nine — Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atlético Madrid — paving the way for them to continue playing in existing European competitions with minimal punishment.

But Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have maintained their support for a breakaway, believing top clubs should be given more control over the finances of competitions in which they participate.

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They also continue to support a legal case against Uefa, with a Madrid court repeatedly calling on the governing body to refrain from taking measures that in effect block the breakaway contest from being formed. 

The Spanish judges have referred the matter to the European Court of Justice on competition grounds. That could become a landmark case, as the continent’s top court will be asked to decide whether Uefa can continue to act as a regulator that is able to place sanctions on clubs while also acting as a participant, profiting from organising tournaments such as the Champions League. 

In a letter to club shareholders earlier on Monday, Andrea Agnelli, president of Juventus, described Uefa’s existing structure as “obsolete”.

A person close to Uefa’s leadership said that by declaring the disciplinary proceedings null and void, the governing body has the capacity to launch sanctions over the Super League at a later date.

But in a memo sent to national football associations, Uefa also warned that “the persistent pursuit of the ESL project and the resultant court cases comprise an ongoing existential threat to the foundations and future of European football”. 

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