Plans for a European Super League caused seismic fallout across the footballing world when they were announced in April 2021.
The six Premier League teams that signed on to the project – Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal – quickly withdrew their support after a backlash from fans, football governing bodies and even the government.
However, the plans haven’t been completely dropped, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus still pushing the Super League idea.
On Thursday there will be an important update in the saga.
A 50-page report will be released by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on behalf of Greece’s Athanasios Rantos, 69, the general counsel in a case examining whether world football’s governing body Fifa and its counterpart European Union, UEFA, have abused their dominant position. by prohibiting participation in alternative competitions.
After the Super League plans were announced, nine of the clubs involved were fined by UEFA. But action against the other three – Real, Barca and Juve – was halted following this legal process.
The report will be Rantos’ written opinion on the case and is not binding, but it could influence the final decision. A Grand Chamber of 15 judges will deliver the final verdict next spring.
If Rantos leaned significantly in any way, it would be claimed as a win. His remarks will be scrutinized on both sides of the debate.
It could be the start of club football that changes forever.
Why is this happening now?
This is not, legally, a debate on the merits of a European Super League.
This case is the ECJ’s response to a series of questions put to it by the Spanish courts when the ESL proposals were launched.
These proposals led to an immediate threat of sanctions for the clubs involved and the players contracted to them from UEFA and Fifa.
Sports management group A22, who are behind the plans, say the response from UEFA and Fifa was unfair. He believes clubs should be free to talk to whomever they want about the idea of creating new external competitions without the threat of punishment.
However, UEFA believes it was entitled to take a stand in order to preserve the health of the wider game, which it said was endangered by the 12 clubs involved, whose motivation it was said sustained, was self-interest and greed.
The case of a Super League
A key proposition of the original Super League plan was no promotion or relegation.
A22 cite other examples of ‘closed’ competitions in world sport, such as rugby union’s Six Nations, and say their updated Super League proposals now include access to other teams.
However, A22 presented no new plans during a meeting at UEFA last month, when he said he had been “ambushed” by representatives of the European Club Association, asked to express their concern. dissatisfaction.
A22 claim that the fundamental objectives of a Super League are to allow clubs to control their own destiny, to have proper corporate governance and to apply Financial Fair Play rules.
It is unclear whether English clubs would be legally allowed to join the ESL given the commitment they have made do not get involved in other discussions following the collapse of the foreground.
But that is not A22’s argument. His argument is only against the monopoly position of governing bodies as organizers of pan-national competitions.
What is UEFA’s position?
UEFA claim that the A22 are trying to ‘explode’ the European sporting model.
He believes that any changes to the format of the ESL would not alter the focus of a small number of clubs benefiting financially at the expense of the game at large.
UEFA also believe that public opinion is with them. Twenty-three countries testified in support of their position before the ECJ. Some spoke to the ECJ for the first time. UEFA believe A22’s case has irregularities.
Overall, he is confident in his position.
What happens now?
The case is listed for 09:30 in Luxembourg (08:30 GMT) this Thursday.
It is expected that within an hour a three-page statement will be released with Rantos’ key observations, with a full explanation expected shortly thereafter.
Neither party will be notified in advance of the results before they are released and, above all, there will be no chance of resolving the issues raised. The submission deadline has long passed and will not be reopened.
For those wondering if a European Super League remains a realistic possibility, Thursday’s report is very important.