'Wolf disguised as granny': Plans for hated European Super League revived after football fans forced clubs into U-turn

9 February 2023, 11:52

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have revived super league plans
Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have revived super league plans. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Hated plans to create a "European Super League" that would drastically reshape football have been revived in another form.

Less than two years after mass fan protests forced owners of the elite clubs in Europe to ditch the idea of forming a largely exclusive gang, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have promoted a new version of the idea.

Football supporters were furious at the last attempt, which would have given its founder clubs permanent membership, which goes against the usual European format of allowing any team to get relegated to a lower league or promotion to another based on how well they do in a season.

Among the European teams to back it were Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool, before fans forced them into a U-turn.

Now, Real, Barca and Juve want to re-attempt a new European super league but in a different format.

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Instead of permanent members, they say they would have 60 to 80 teams compete across a number of divisions. Each team would be guaranteed at least 14 games a season.

Clubs would drop out of the league and new ones added, though the details on that were not announced when the three remaining backers of a European Super League published their idea on Thursday.

Fans were angered by plans for a European Super League
Fans were angered by plans for a European Super League. Picture: Alamy

Whether it will get support from other European clubs remains to be seen. Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur had initially backed the last attempt at establishing a super league but backed out after a ferocious fan backlash.

Javier Tebas, the head of the Spanish La Liga, tweeted: "The Super League is the wolf, who today disguises himself as a granny to try to fool European football, but HIS nose and HIS teeth are very big, four divisions in Europe?

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"Of course the first [division is] for [the founder clubs], as in the 2019 reform. Government of the clubs? Of course only the big ones."

English clubs have not commented on the idea. Fans hated it because they feared it would turn the Champions League from an elite competition reserved for the clubs that finish highest in their leagues and devalue domestic competitions like the Premier League.

Under Fiorentino Perez's rule, Real Madrid have continued to support the plans
Under Fiorentino Perez's rule, Real Madrid have continued to support the plans. Picture: Alamy

Uefa, the governing body of football in Europe, has already reformed the Champions League – the most prestigious club tournament in the sport – to give teams more games, and make it slightly easier for some top clubs to qualify in certain cases.

The sister company of the European Super League business, A22, took aim at Uefa, the governing body of football in Europe.

Chief executive Bernd Reichart said: "It is the clubs that bear the entrepreneurial risk in football. But when it comes to important decisions, they are too often forced to stand idly by from the sidelines as the sporting and financial foundations run under their hands.

"Our talks have also made it clear that it is often impossible for clubs to raise their voices publicly against a system that uses the threat of sanctions to prevent opposition.”

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