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European Super League Backers Prepare to Shake Up Soccer

David Hellier
·3 min read
European Super League Backers Prepare to Shake Up Soccer

(Bloomberg) --

The powers behind a new super league in European soccer are set to deliver their plan for what would be the sport’s biggest shakeup in decades, prompting the game’s rulers to consider legal action to block it.

Organizers are finalizing details of an alternative to the prestigious UEFA Champions League, in which a group of at least 10 marquee teams -- including Manchester United and Real Madrid -- would play each other, according to people familiar with the situation. An announcement could come as soon as this week, said the people, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Establishing a new elite competition in Europe would effectively end the Champions League’s decades-long reign as the world’s premier club contest, upend the sport’s structure, and funnel billions of dollars into the upper echelons. Founding teams would share an upfront payment of 3.5 billion euros ($4.2 billion), according to a planning document seen by Bloomberg News.

National leagues from England, Spain and Italy, plus the sport’s governing body in Europe, hit back on Sunday in an attempt to undermine the project before it is officially announced.

We “will remain united in our efforts to stop this cynical project, a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs,” according to a joint statement. “We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting, in order to prevent this happening.”

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UEFA is also pushing back by considering expanding its tournament to give each team 10 pre-knockout group matches compared to six now. It’s scheduled to publish further details later this month.

Italy’s Juventus and England’s Liverpool have all been discussed as permanent members of the new league, Bloomberg News reported previously. For top Italian clubs, the potential breakaway comes as the league and its teams try to woo private equity companies into financing their business.

Under the new project, any club would remain in its domestic league but pull out of the Champions League.

While details have so far been scant, proponents argue a super league would create a more exciting competition because the top teams would play each other more often. It would also be lucrative for them, with permanent membership removing the uncertainty of the Champions League, whose teams must qualify annually or risk losing broadcasting and sponsorship revenue.

The windfall would help restore some of the revenue losses suffered by Europe’s top teams during Covid-19 -- matches have been played out in largely empty stadiums for more than a year.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is in talks to provide financing for the project based on the expectation of future television revenues, people familiar with the matter said previously.

(Adds reaction from Premier League and UEFA from first paragraph)

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