Real Madrid, Juventus and Barca not giving up on Super League
The main advocates of the Super League are not giving up.
Barcelona chief Joan Laporta on Sunday followed Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and their Juventus counterpart Andrea Agnelli in defending the project to his club’s supporters.
“It’s a competition that’s necessary, to choose our destiny. We, the clubs, will rule,” Laporta told the club’s annual general meeting.
“I’m optimistic. Given the inaction of UEFA, regarding the distortion which the financial doping by state-owned clubs generates, we have to react.”
Perez led a group of 12 major European clubs into the Super League project in April 2021 but it vanished a few days later after pressure from fans and authorities.
Real, Barcelona and Juventus are the only clubs that have tried to keep alive a project that would be direct competition with the Champions League.
Last week, Perez compared European football with tennis.
“What is the point of depriving the fans of the big matches? Nadal and Federer met 40 times. Nadal and Djokovic, 59, is it boring? Liverpool and Real Madrid have faced nine times in 67 years,” he told Madrid’s members’ assembly.
A court decision in 2023 will be crucial in determining the project’s future.
The Super League project came back to life in July, when litigation for an alleged abuse of a dominant position by UEFA was brought to the European Union Court of Justice, at the request of a Madrid judge to whom the Super League chiefs turned.
‘Healthy and beautiful’
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin responded to Perez, telling a news conference in Rome: “Once again he has shown that his idea is to close everything off, without games against smaller teams.
On Thursday, in a letter to shareholders, Agnelli reaffirmed his “commitment” to the project and proposed “establishing a direct link with sponsors who dare to take business risks, and control of economic resources.”
On Sunday, Laporta told Barcelona members that he favoured an open competition.
“It will be an open league, based on meritocracy, and always respecting the national leagues. It’s something that’s awaiting approval in Luxembourg, and when it has the green light we can start to work, without pressure, on a format that everybody will like.”
On Saturday, in an interview with Sonora reported by Marca, Laporta explained why he would prefer not to have a closed format.
“I think that the big clubs always playing each other would be tiring,” he said.
“Those who like football among us, would end up tired. It’s healthy and beautiful that a smaller team can beat a bigger team.
“To back the underdog is very nice. You see a Euros won by Greece, and it’s beautiful. And when Leicester won (the Premier League) in England it was special.
“A Super League would be an improved Champions League, with a better format, it would surely be the most attractive competition in the world,” he added.
Success or failure?
Opponents of the project have also been active.
On Friday, UEFA and the European Commission announced the renewal of their cooperation agreement which “aims to use European football as a force for positive change” until 2025.
To counter the Super League, UEFA announced a sweeping overhaul of the Champions League in May to start in 2024, with 36 teams instead of 32 and an eight-match mini-championship instead of the traditional group stage.
The television rights will be sold for a projected 15 billion euros (14.6 billion dollars) for three years from 2024 to 2027.
“Sales of the new format in the US are up 150 percent. In the UK and France, not so much. It shows that the new format is very successful even before it starts,” said Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, one of the big European clubs that was part of the initial Super League ‘breakaway’.
“Football must develop but in a way that respects all clubs – small, medium and large,” added Al-Khelaifi, a Qatari who is also president of the European Club Association (ECA) and vice-president of UEFA.
The judicial process may be key in the conflict’s ultimate resolution. The final decision is expected near the beginning of 2023.