Monday April 19 2021
What we still need to know about the European Super League

The formation of the European Super League was announced on Sunday but plenty of vital questions about where football goes from here remain unanswered.

Juventus, Milan and Inter are the three Serie A representatives involved, although the Old Lady posted an eyebrow-raising statement after the breakaway was confirmed, but the impact of the move has been felt across Europe.

A statement released in the name of the 12 founding clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid joining the Italian trio – and the subsequent replies from governing bodies and national governments attempted to address a number of issues raised by the creation of the European Super League, but many more are as yet unclear.

These are some of the pressing questions that need to be answered – and why they matter.

What does the European Super League mean for this season’s Champions League and Europa League?

Rumours swirled on social media on Sunday night that UEFA would expel the 12 clubs from European competition. UEFA did say in a statement that ‘the clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level, and their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams,’ but didn’t clarify if that related to the 2020-21 season, or only to future seasons.

Three of this season’s four Champions League semi-finalists are among the ESL’s founders – Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid. If UEFA acted to expel the 12 clubs this season, then that would presumably leave Paris Saint-Germain – who declined to be part of the breakaway – as winners by default.

Similarly, two of the last four in the Europa League are signatories to the breakaway – Arsenal and Manchester United. Barring them from UEFA competitions for this season could see Villarreal and Roma receive byes to the final.

The Super League has reportedly sent a letter to FIFA and UEFA as part of an attempt to block sanctions from football’s governing bodies. The letter gives notice of legal proceedings in European courts to that end.

How will this season’s domestic leagues be effected by the European Super League?

Points deductions for the breakaway clubs would greatly impact their domestic leagues, depending on the scale of the punishment – and the success of the clubs’ attempts to block any sanction.

Manchester City and Inter are runaway leaders in England and Italy respectively; Atletico, Barca and Madrid are in a three-way fight in Spain. Points deductions could throw these leagues wide open in the final weeks of the season.

They could also add fuel to the fire as the ESL clubs have stated their intention to still compete in their respective domestic leagues after their competition is launched, which could potentially be as early as August. It remains to be seen how they can still have a good relationship with leagues that belong to a confederation they are essentially abandoning.

How will Euro 2020 be effected?

UEFA have said that players who compete in a non-UEFA competition would be prohibited from playing in UEFA competitions. That would include international fixtures.

Euro 2020 is due to take place before the launch of the European Super League and so might avoid a seemingly inevitable standoff. But will the game’s top players be willing to risk banishment from international football for a venture spearheaded by the clubs to which they are contracted?

What do the players think?

Indeed, where the players even consulted? It’s a question worth asking as they are the ones who will actually play the fixtures in the new competition, not Joel Glazer, Florentino Perez and Andrea Agnelli, the only people to speak publically about the European Super League so far.

Numerous former players have spoken out against the proposals, almost all negatively; few, if any, current players from the breakaway clubs, have said anything at all. If players refuse to be involved then that is another contractual can of worms opened.

There are more questions awaiting answers. No doubt the television broadcasters who have paid a fortune for Champions League rights have a long list of questions of their own. Fans do too, whether they support one of the 12 clubs or any of those left behind. It appears unlikely the answers will be satisfactory. The breakaway clubs have made a power grab, ad brought football to a precipice.