BEVERLY HILLS, May 08, (THEWILL) – A trio of Europe’s biggest football clubs, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, remaining recalcitrant in the face of the defunct European Super League after the other nine founding members pulled out, have issued a joint statement sticking to the Super League, while claiming to be under “unacceptable” pressure and threats from all corners.
In the face of the odds stacked against them, especially from authorities in Europe and globally, these three sides have insisted that they will continue to pursue similar concepts in the future, a policy that is antithetical to everything that the current system and structure of football stand for, and which the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) kicked strongly against in forcing the other nine clubs to recant.
After the enormous backlash and fan pressure the launch of the project faced that forced its collapse within 48 hours of launch, nine of the founding 12 members agreed to sanctions imposed by UEFA and pledged their future commitment to existing international and domestic club competitions as they currently operate.
As THEWILL reported on Friday, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Inter AC Milan and Atletico Madrid all accepted the punishment for their actions that threatened the very nature of football, agreeing to give up 5% of revenue from one seasons’ worth of European competition and an aggregate donation of €15m. However, the remaining three, Real, Juve and Barca, have stubbornly refused to retreat, even with threats of “appropriate action” from UEFA.
The three hold on to the claim that the idea and concept remained “the good of football” and thus will always be relevant even though, as critics pointed out, its closed-system format discouraged competition and it concentrated ridiculous wealth in so very few hands. Yet, they have hung on with the insistence that it will be “highly irresponsible” to abandon it because doing that could lead to a “systemic crisis” in football.
As a consequence of their intransigence and UEFA’s stance against the idea of competing leagues that would rend the current balance of competitions, UEFA president, Aleksandar Ceferin, is poised to propose a two-year European ban on Real, Barca and Juve at the end of the 2020/2021 season, according to reports in Spain.
The financial implications of a deleterious move like that on the three clubs, all of whom are still reeling from the effects of lost revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic from last season, will have damaging effects on the clubs from which it is doubtful if they can come out.
The reason many fans are still protesting at their clubs is because, like most analysts have pointed out, there has been so much financial recklessness and accounting indiscipline which have led to funding unsustainable financial models and spiralling costs for many of these big clubs. This is believed to have been a significant motivating factor behind the formation of a Super League to be the money-spinner they require to continue their habits.
The coordinated statement from the three clubs read: “In relation to the statement released by UEFA on the 7th May in respect of the Super League and the position taken by 9 of its founding clubs, Fútbol Club Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid Club de Fútbol state the following:
“I- The founding clubs have suffered, and continue to suffer, unacceptable third-party pressures, threats, and offenses to abandon the project and therefore desist from their right and duty to provide solutions to the football ecosystem via concrete proposals and constructive dialogue.
“This is intolerable under the rule of law and Tribunals have already ruled in favour of the Super League proposal, ordering FIFA and UEFA to, either directly or through their affiliated bodies, refrain from taking any action which may hinder this initiative in any way while court proceedings are pending.”
II- The Super League project was designed jointly by its 12 founding clubs:
“a. with the aim of providing solutions to the current unsustainable situation in the football industry. The 12 founding clubs shared the same concerns -as other stakeholders in European football do-, particularly under the current socio-economic context, that structural reforms are indispensable to ensure our sport stays appealing and survives in the long-term.
“To that effect, on 18th April, they announced their willingness to create the Super League and establish a channel of communication with UEFA and FIFA, in a constructive spirit of collaboration between the parties, as it was so notified to each of them on such date;
“b. with the utmost respect for the current football structures and ecosystem. The founding clubs expressly agreed that the Super League would only take place if such a competition was recognised by UEFA and/or FIFA or if, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, it was deemed to be a competition duly compatible for all purposes with the continuity of the founding clubs in their respective domestic competitions.
“However, despite being aware of the above terms, UEFA and FIFA have so far refused to establish any adequate channel of communication; and
“c. to bring financial stability to the entire European football family, currently under the effects of a deep crisis that threatens the survival of many clubs.
“Testament of it, the announced commitment to establish annual solidarity payments for guaranteed annual amounts that materially multiply those distributed by UEFA, and the obligation to reinforce financial sustainability rules, through the creation of a clear, transparent and effective control system verified by experts.
“III- The 12 founding clubs also acknowledged that the Super League was a unique opportunity to offer fans around the world the best possible show and to reinforce global interest in the sport, which is not a ‘given’ and is challenged by new generational trends.
“Moreover, one of its main objectives was to promote women’s football on a global level, a tremendous, but currently underestimated, opportunity for the sector.
“IV- We are fully aware of the diversity of reactions to the Super League initiative and, consequently, of the need to reflect on the reasons for some of them. We are ready to reconsider the proposed approach, as necessary.
“However, we would be highly irresponsible if, being aware of the needs and systemic crisis in the football sector, which led us to announce the Super League, we abandoned such a mission to provide effective and sustainable answers to the existential questions that threaten the football industry.
“V- We regret to see that our friends and founding partners of the Super League project have now found themselves in such an inconsistent and contradictory position when signing a number of commitments to UEFA yesterday.
“However, given that the material issues that led the 12 founding clubs to announce the Super League weeks ago have not gone away, we reiterate that, to honour our history, to comply with our obligations towards our stakeholders and fans, for the good of football and for the financial sustainability of the sector, we have the duty to act in a responsible manner and persevere in the pursuit of adequate solutions, despite the unacceptable and ongoing pressures and threats received from UEFA.
“VI- Mostly, we reiterate to FIFA, UEFA and all football stakeholders, as we have done on several occasions since the announcement of the Super League, our commitment and firm will to discuss, with respect and without intolerable pressure and in accordance with the rule of law, the most appropriate solutions for the sustainability of the whole football family.”