MADRID, Feb 9 (Reuters) – The European Super League project has adapted to criticism from two years ago when it was first launched but still remains the only solution to European football’s growing problems, the CEO of A22 Sports Management, a company formed to sponsor and assist in the creation of a breakaway soccer league, said on Thursday.
Earlier on Thursday, the company published preliminary results of talks with 50 European clubs and stakeholders of football, saying “the vast majority of them share the assessment that the very foundation of European football is under threat, and it is time for change.”
European heavyweights Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus were among 12 clubs to announce a breakaway Super League in April 2021.
But the move spectacularly collapsed within 48 hours after an outcry from fans, governments and players forced most teams to pull out, leaving the three as holdouts.
The ESL took its case to a Spanish court which subsequently sought guidance from the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
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At issue in the ongoing court case is whether statutes of UEFA and FIFA that allow the European and world soccer governing bodies respectively to block rival events and bar clubs and players from taking part conform with EU competition rules.
“This project has now evolved,” Bernd Reichart told Reuters in an interview. “It has adapted to some criticism, it has adapted to some conclusions, to some evolutions in the market and it will also adapt once we have a certain legal certainty about how we can proceed with our proposals.”
A future European Super League could include as many as 80 teams split into several divisions, breaking what Reichart said was a monopoly of competitions run by UEFA.
“We see competitive imbalances making it harder and harder for clubs to dream about European success and to be competitive with leagues like the English Premier League which is increasing the gap and their dominance,” he said.
“Their dominance is scary for clubs who have the vision to compete at the highest level.”
Reichart said the Super League would boost revenues for clubs and would allow them greater control.
“I think it’s in the interest of the whole industry … that we try to create and to run the most attractive, most appealing, most exciting sporting event there is.
“Currently the European competitions are not living up to their potential.”
The preliminary findings released on Thursday, however, triggered angry reactions from national and European leagues as well as European club and fan associations who oppose the Super League project.
“In the end we want to enable clubs to run their own destiny and clubs to run the European competitions in a very similar fashion as they do in their domestic leagues,” Reichart said.
“I’m pretty convinced that they (fans) also believe that the destiny of the club should be in the hands of a club government,” he added.
UEFA, the biggest opponent to the ESL plan which it sees as threatening its own Champions League club competition, did not comment on Thursday.
“UEFA is running an activity – European club football – where they have no competition, which is something they would like to defend because it’s a very, very comfortable situation,” Reichart said.
“It’s even understandable that they want to continue to save the status quo, but the question is whether or not the clubs agree on that and whether or not the need for alternatives and for innovation and for reforms is stronger.”
Writing by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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