A new-look, open European Super League could contain up to 80 teams in a multi-divisional format, the competition’s chief executive has said.
The competition would be based on sporting performance only with no permanent members, A22 chief executive Bernd Reichart told German newspaper Die Welt.
Teams would be guaranteed a minimum of 14 matches per season.
A22, a company formed to sponsor and assist with the creation of the Super League, has consulted with nearly 50 European clubs since October last year and developed 10 principles based on that consultation which underpin its plans for a new-look league.
Reichart said: “The foundations of European football are in danger of collapsing.
“It’s time for a change. It is the clubs that bear the entrepreneurial risk in football. But when important decisions are at stake, they are too often forced to sit idly by on the sidelines as the sporting and financial foundations crumble around them.
“Our talks have also made it clear that clubs often find it impossible to speak out publicly against a system that uses the threat of sanctions to thwart opposition.
“Our dialogue was open, honest, constructive and resulted in clear ideas about what changes are needed and how they could be implemented. There is a lot to do and we will continue our dialogue.”
A22 has challenged UEFA and FIFA’s right to block the formation of the Super League and sanction the competing clubs in the courts, arguing the governing bodies are abusing a dominant position under EU competition law.
The European Court of Justice is due to give its final ruling in the case later this year, but a non-binding opinion delivered by the Advocate General in the case in December said rules allowing UEFA and FIFA to block the formation of new competitions was compatible with EU law.
Discussing that point, Reichart exclusively told Sky Sports News: “The Advocate General has a non-binding recommendation. To some extent, he says there has to be a proper authorisation process if you want to do another alternative competition.
“UEFA has a special obligation to evaluate that and it cannot favour its own competition over somebody else. We still believe the court can go a step further.
“The best we can do in the weeks or a month to go is wait, be patient and have faith in the European judicial system. Then we would have to adapt our project.
“Any authorisation or legislation has to tell us what this competition has to comply with: integrity, solidarity, openness, youth development, infrastructure investments. You tell us and we will adapt the project. But, in the end, we believe that a European competition should be governed by clubs, just like in any domestic leagues.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) said: “We have seen today’s statement from A22 Sports Management, which is seeking to replace UEFA’s Champions League with a new European Super League.
“Our understanding is that the Court of Justice of the European Union will be ruling on UEFA’s position later this year and we await the outcome of that case with interest.
“We have not been consulted on the new proposals and we fully support the statement from the European Leagues.”
Reichart said the new-look Super League would be an open competition, with qualification achieved via performance at national level and with all its teams competing in their domestic leagues.
Those national leagues would remain “the foundation” of the game, Reichart said, and argued that the new Super League would generate new revenues to support the entire pyramid.
The guarantee of a minimum of 14 matches, Reichart says, would provide “stablility and predictability” of revenue.
Reichart set out plans for cost-control measures, saying clubs should spend only a fixed percentage of their annual football-related revenue on player salaries and net transfers.
“Club spending must be based solely on the funds generated and not on competitively distorting capital injections,” he wrote.
‘Super League is the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood’
In a damning response to the new proposals, LaLiga said in a statement: “The Super League is the wolf in the story of Little Red Riding Hood.
“It is disguising itself as an open and meritocratic competition, but underneath there is still the same selfish, elitist and greed-driven project. Don’t let their tales fool you.”
ECA: When will A22 move on?
The European Club Association echoed LaLiga’s views on the new plans.
“This is just another deliberately distorted and misleading attempt to de-stabilise the constructive work currently taking place between football’s real stakeholders to move things forward in the overall best interests of the European club game,” the ECA said.
“As the sole organisation recognised by FIFA and UEFA representing clubs at European and international level, and the only body through which clubs have genuine representation in their decision-making, ECA reiterates its long-standing opposition to the European Super League and any breakaway project.
“A great amount of progress and positive change has been achieved by ECA in recent years in collaborative partnership with all football stakeholders – UEFA, FIFA and the confederations, national associations, leagues, fans, players and clubs of all sizes – working for the benefit of the entire European football ecosystem.
“From 2024, more clubs from more countries will participate in European men’s club competitions every season, growing the passion of European football and greatly increasing the amount of revenue being shared. Significant progress can be seen across other aspects of the game from women’s football, youth and academy development, finance and regulation to sustainability and social impact.
“This is what real change looks like. We have moved on, when will A22?”
‘European model far from broken’
The European Leagues said in a statement:
“The European Leagues are very surprised by the statement from A22 which refers to an open consultation process and its results.
“The European Leagues – the body officially representing the interests of 40 domestic competition organisers coming from 34 countries in Europe and 1092 clubs – never met with A22 and were not consulted.
“The Leagues fully support the current European club football model which is based on an open pyramidal structure with promotion and relegation from grassroots to professional at domestic level, and where qualification for the UEFA clubs competitions is based on the annual performance in the domestic competitions.
“This model is far from being broken and does not need to be fixed.”
‘The walking corpse twitches again’
Fan opposition to the 2021 plans was especially key to sinking the project, and Football Supporters’ Association chief executive Kevin Miles likened the European Super League to a twitching corpse on Thursday.
“The walking corpse that is the European Super League twitches again with all the self-awareness one associates with a zombie,” Miles said.
“Their newest idea is to have an ‘open competition’ rather than the closed shop they originally proposed that led to huge fan protests.
“Of course an open competition for Europe’s top clubs already exists – it’s called the Champions League.
“They say ‘dialogue with fans and independent fan groups is essential’ yet the European Zombie League marches on – wilfully ignorant to the contempt supporters across the continent have for it.”
Will new-look European Super League succeed?
Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol:
“I would say the chances of it happening are somewhere between slim and none. To have a European Super League that anyone is ever going to watch, you’re going to need to have English clubs in it like Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea.
“These Premier League clubs cannot join a breakaway league. The Premier League handbook has the owners’ charter which is something all the owners of Premier League clubs have had to sign. In that charter, point nine says: ‘We are collectively committed to the Premier League and recognise our responsibility to support it. We will not engage in the creation of new competition formats outside the Premier League’s rules’.
“The government white paper that is going to come out which will recommend setting up an Independent Regulator for football will make it absolutely clear that clubs cannot join a breakaway Super League either.
“Last time they tried it, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham all thought it was a fantastic idea. It fell apart in a matter of days and were all fined.
“In my opinion, this is never going to happen because the Premier League clubs cannot join it.
“A22 Sports Management is effectively saying UEFA are anti-competitive, why shouldn’t other people be allowed to set up leagues? What they want to do is replace one cartel with another cartel. Instead of UEFA running the game in Europe, they want it to be run by Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus.”
What has already happened?
In October, Reichart revealed the new-look European Super League could be up and running by the 2024/25 season.
Asked then if that was the earliest the failed project could start up again, Reichart said: “That might be the first reasonable and realistic call but there are so many variables that I can’t actually foresee. That is probably the first realistic call.”
The European Super League was initially launched in April 2021 with 12 founding members – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid – who would permanently take part in the competition.
The plan quickly collapsed after the six Premier League clubs pulled out in the face of fierce criticism from supporters, pundits, clubs and the media, but Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid remain committed to the concept.
Permanent membership of the European Super League for the founding members was a significant point of criticism, but Reichart previously said: “There has been an important reassessment and the concept is spreading out about openness and taking the permanent membership off the table. I can say the three clubs have credibly reassessed and taken some learnings from the first approach.
“I am aware of what the English clubs stated a year and a half ago, but I hope the whole football community is appreciating the approach to continue to care and try to come up with solutions.”
The Premier League referred to their statement from June 2021 when contacted by Sky Sports News and ahead of the 2022/23 season, all clubs in the top flight signed up to the following commitment: “We are collectively committed to the Premier League and recognise our responsibility to support it.
“We will not engage in the creation of new competition formats outside of the Premier League’s rules.”
The story of the European Super League
European Super League – Timeline
1990s — Wealthy European clubs make veiled threats of breaking away into a Super League to pressure UEFA into giving them more Champions League money and format changes in their favour.
2008 — European Club Association created to make long-term peace with UEFA and lock club leaders into Champions League consultation.
November 2018 — Real Madrid-backed Super League plan revealed in Football Leaks series using hacked documents.
2019 — ECA-backed plan for semi-closed Champions League in 2024 fails amid backlash by leagues and mid-ranking clubs.
October 2020 — Outgoing Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu reveals Super League plan in resignation speech, reportedly urged on by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
December 2020 — UEFA works on a 36-team Champions League plan to start in 2024 that gives clubs the extra games and money they have demanded.
January 2021 — Reports emerge of Real Madrid-backed Super League plan with financier JP Morgan Chase. UEFA and FIFA unite to oppose, threaten bans for players who take part.
March 8 2021 — ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli of Juventus praises UEFA’s proposed Champions League changes, calls the 36-team, single-standings format “beautiful.”
March 29-31 2021 — ECA-UEFA meetings to sign off on the 36-team Champions League format. Super League clubs start pushing for more financial control of the competition than UEFA is offering. UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin rebuffs their demands in rift with Agnelli.
April 16 2021 — ECA board and UEFA’s club competitions committee sign off on Champions League changes with no dissent ahead of expected decision at meeting of UEFA executive committee.
April 17 2021 — Rumours of imminent Super League plan emerge. Ceferin later reveals that Agnelli stopped taking or replying to his phone calls.
April 18 2021 — Reports of a Super League announcement sparks a backlash by former players and France president Emmanuel Macron. The 12-team Super League is later announced in coordinated statements from the clubs after most fans in Europe are asleep. Agnelli resigns as ECA chairman and from the UEFA executive committee.
April 19 2021 — UEFA executive committee confirms the 36-team Champions League revamp. British government warns of new legislation on club ownership to help block the Super League. Ceferin denounces the “snakes” who betrayed UEFA, warns Super League players could be banned from their national teams. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he dislikes the Super League. Fans protest at Liverpool’s stadium and at Leeds, where the team is playing that night.
April 20 2021 — Real Madrid president Perez, who would be Super League chairman, breaks his silence on an overnight Spanish show. He claims the project would save European football. At UEFA’s annual meeting later that morning, FIFA president Gianni Infantino says he disapproves of the Super League project. Ceferin delivers a strong speech against the club owners while also inviting some in England to change their minds. The other 14 Premier League clubs in England meet to discuss the six rebels. The project cracks in the evening. Manchester City and Chelsea are first to withdraw. Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward, a leading agitator, announces he will leave his job later that year. By midnight, all six English clubs are out.
April 21 2021 — Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus drop out, leaving only Real Madrid and Barcelona. Juventus and AC Milan both signal that there is a future for the Super League.