The Premier League clubs originally involved in plans to form a breakaway European Super League received confirmation of their punishment on Wednesday, with all six being handed a combined fine of around £20m having reached a settlement with the governing body. Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur joined six other European sides in attempting to withdraw from UEFA competition and create their own alternative tournament in April 2021, but their plans were quickly quashed by mass fan protests And with nine of the 12, including all six Premier League sides, apologising and backing down from the plans, the ESL remains dead in the water. But the clubs involved still face punishments for their actions from their domestic governing bodies, and the English sides have now learnt their fate.
Sky News report that the half-dozen English clubs have reached a settlement with the Premier League, where they have accepted a combined fine of £20m to draw a line under the issue and move forward.
They have also agreed to accept a £20m fine each if they attempt to pull off a similar coup in the future, as well as suffering a 30-point deduction in the Premier League for their misbehaviour.
So the richest teams in the world were basically fined £20m between them.
It's one priority to ensure that the punishment fits the crime - of course.
It's quite another - IF we're going to play policeman's lawyer, to have the alternative solutions, as well as an alternative mandate.
IF UEFA's plan to give more meaning to both the "Champions' League" and the Europa League through the introduction of the Europa Conference, then yes: what we're witnessing is an anticlimax alright.
But the fact remains that problems existing within not only European club football, but most high-energy global sports are snowballing and doing nothing to correct them with both conviction and vision must be a top priority.
So what are the problems snowballing out of control (asides quick-fix greed influences of the past 25-or-so years infiltrating football) and how can WE be the solution to the mess?
Well, first of all: The Champions' League: (as it perhaps should return to being again):
IF UEFA were to create a 30-party, Champions' (of their own country) League group phase,
from ONLY the 55 nation state league WINNERS + the reigning Champions' League winners, streamlined from one single-legged qualifying round
from the lowest 52 of 56, to 26, with the four exception teams with the highest overall performance from ONE previous season - NOT this ridiculous ranking system proposed in the "Swiss model" making up the 30 Group Phase participants (respecting those likely to be playing at World Cups and continental tournaments - without taking the [expletive]).
From each of the six pools of five teams, ONLY FOUR GROUP FIXTURES - NOT SIX or EIGHT (two home fixtures, two away), with ONLY the Group winners of each five-team-group allowed automatic entry to the Quarter-finals in February.
These four games for each Group Phase team played over five Autumn midweek Gameweeks.
The four best 2nd-placed teams playing-off on ONE further game, for the final two Quarter-final places played over a sixth Gameweek: 1st-best runner-up Group Phase team playing 4th-best runner-up and 2nd-best Group Phase runner-up hosting 3rd-best runner-up; the other two Group Phase runners-up joining the two losing play-off teams into the Europa League trapdoor.
With ALL SIX 3rd-placed Group Phase finishers sent straight to the Europa Conference trapdoor AND ALL 4th & 5th-placed teams completely exiting Europe for the season;
This will aim to make the contest far less easy a task to mathematically manipulate in the way say... Juventus managed to qualify for the knockout Quarter-finals in 1998-99 (drawing 5 and wining just 1 of the six Group Phase games in a 4-team-pool - yet SOMEHOW managing to win the Group outright by taking just 8 points out of a possible 24); while at the same time both protecting against long-term player burnout by reducing fixture numbers AND allowing for the game to develop to an ever higher level, PLUS give far more meaning to the Autumn European fixture list, by offering lower capable teams the chance of Winter European participation thus reducing 'dead-rubbers' in a more appropriate safety net.
THEN: the Europa League: an identical fixture format:
TWENTY Group Phase pools of FIVE teams. 2 home games, 2 away; again, NOT playing all four clubs at home AND all four away.
Only the pool winners given automatic entry into the Last 32 in February, with only the best sixteen runners-up clubs playing-off with one-legged, sixth gameweek fixtures, the EIGHT winners joining the TWENTY Group winners and the FOUR Champions' League runners-up that DON'T progress in the "top table" competition, and the EIGHT runner-up play-off losers joining the other FOUR unlucky runners-up in the Europa Conference in an appropriate trapdoor dropout safety net.
AND the Europa Conference itself? Similar format to the January Last 32; SIXTEEN groups of FIVE teams playing 2 home + 2 away Group Phase fixtures. ALL 16 Group winners progressing in February's Europa Conference Last 32, joined by TWELVE Europa League dropouts and FOUR Champions' League 3rd-placed Group Phase dropouts.
One difference in this proposal to all UEFA League/Conference ideas thus far is to make the Last 32 & Last 16 rounds ONE-LEGGED, before all quarter-finals returning to the two-legged nitty-gritty.
Fewer games. Higher stakes. Less margin for error - or complacency. All, at the same time, giving back both credibility AND integrity to European football AND professional sport altogether.
Please debate at all angles!
"Don't you turn too - if I ever change..."
Mark Reynolds, one half of Liverpool's second-finest band ever: Red Flag.
(The band name purely a reference to the motor racing signal that stops F1/IndyCar races, not our neighbours.)
Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid vowed to press on with the European Super League project on Friday after a court ruled against what the clubs called "UEFA´s threats."
A Spanish court on Friday threw out an appeal by UEFA against the decision this month to unwind the actions taken against all of the 12 Super League founding clubs.
The three remaining clubs not to abandon the Super League plan - Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus - released a joint statement welcoming the court´s decision against "UEFA´s monopolistic position over European football" and reiterated their stance to continue planning a breakaway competition.
"We are pleased that going forward we will no longer be subject to ongoing UEFA´s threats," they said in the statement.
"Our aim is to keep developing the Super League project in a constructive and cooperative manner, always counting on all football stakeholders: Fans, players, coaches, clubs, leagues, and national and international associations."
The clubs were even more scathing toward UEFA.
"We have the duty to address the very serious issues facing football," they said. "UEFA has established itself as the sole regulator, exclusive operator, and unique owner of rights of European football competitions.
"This monopolistic position, in conflict of interest, is damaging football and its competitive balance. As shown by ample evidence, financial controls are inadequate, and they have been improperly enforced. Clubs participating in European competitions have the right to govern their own competitions."
A ruling by the mercantile court in Madrid on July 1, made on request by the Super League, declared null a battery of disciplinary measures that nine of the 12 clubs behind the Super League agreed to in May after a backlash against the proposed league.
The court ordered UEFA to rescind the agreement that the nine clubs - Atlético Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham - signed to give up 5% of revenue for one season playing in Europe.
It also voided the combined payment of 15 million euros ($17.8 million) by the nine clubs for what UEFA called a "gesture of goodwill," as well as the pledge made by the nine that they would accept a fine of 100 million euros ($118 million) if they seek again to play in an unauthorized competition.
The three remaining clubs confirmed that had been upheld by Friday´s ruling.
"The court backs the request made by the promoters of the European Super League, dismisses UEFA´s appeal, and confirms its warning to UEFA that failure to comply with its ruling shall result in fines and potential criminal liability," they said in the statement.
"The case will be assessed by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, which shall review UEFA´s monopolistic position over European football."
The proposed league - a largely closed midweek competition - collapsed within days of its April unveiling after being abandoned by the six English clubs amid a backlash from their supporters and warnings from the British government that legislation could be introduced to thwart it.
"We are aware that there are elements of our proposal that should be reviewed and, of course, can be improved through dialogue and consensus," the statement concluded.
"We remain confident in the success of a project that will be always compliant with European Union laws."
Three football clubs pushing for a European Super League are reportedly considering legal action. The clubs — which had hoped to stop other teams being promoted or relegated — accuse soccer chiefs of seeking a monopoly. Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Juventus — the three clubs still behind the Super League — are reported to be planning legal action against football authorities.
The three sides say they want to dismantle a "monopoly" that prevents the creation of rival contests.
What are the clubs hoping to do? Britain's Financial Times newspaper has reported seeing documents that the clubs are filing with the European Court of Justice.
The newspaper said the sides will ask judges to decide whether European football's governing body, UEFA, can continue to act as a regulator.
They said UEFA should not be able to sanction clubs while profiting from organizing tournaments such as the Champions League, according to the document.
A Madrid court has now referred the case to the European Court of Justice.
It wants judges in Luxembourg to rule on whether the statutes of UEFA and world governing body FIFA, which give them exclusive rights to organize football in Europe, are compatible with EU law.
What would a Super League mean? The creation of a Super League would fundamentally reshape competition at both a domestic and European level.
Originally, the plan was proposed by 12 clubs to create a league of 15 permanent teams from Europe's wealthiest leagues that could never be relegated.
f the Los Angeles Lakers played in the Premier League this season, there would have been a whole lot more noise.
The Lakers – yes, the Lebron James and Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook Lakers, the formerly-Magic Johnson world-beaters and always home of the legendary Kobe Bryant – festered in what NBA experts and fans are dubbing simply an ‘historically disappointing season’.
The team finished 11th in the NBA’s shallow Western conference, trailed by a littering of tragic performances. The Lakers did not technically crack the ignominious 50-games-lost point, though they arguably only did so by not having one more game to lose.
The torrid season comes after being the No. 2 preseason betting favourites to win the NBA championship, courtesy of a star-studded line-up (did we mention Davis, Westbrook and James?), a championship pedigree and the sheen of a top contender.
Injuries did not help, but what is the Lakers punishment for such a woeful season? Barring the team's inglorious crowning as ‘good shout for most disappointing team ever’ from fans, not much. The Lakers will miss out on post-season play-offs for a consecutive season. James will nurse an ankle injury. Head coach Frank Vogel predictability fell into the managerial cross-hairs in the days after. Some more behind-the-scenes staff shaking is likely still to come and, if fans are lucky, some spicy player interviews.
All of which is why there hasn’t been that much racket on the international sports media Richter scale. The clangour is there, but only so. That is because not once during the Lakers’ abysmal run was there ever the threat that the institution might face a more severe punishment.
The Lakers could never be relegated.
Imagine it. A global goliath, the world’s most purchased basketball jersey, the Lakers , playing Barnsley on a blistering and rainy Saturday afternoon during a 3pm blackout for their sins.
Imagination, of course, is the only place such a spectacular fall from grace could occur in the closed-shop model of American sport. In this vintage, historically ‘big’ teams, such as the Lakers or the NFL’s New York Giants, are awarded a significant degree of cosy protection. Bad season? Fuhgeddaboudit. Take the L, box it up and move on. There is always next season.
That type of complacency is anathema to football die-hards around the world who have grown up on the religion of anything-but-closed-shop affairs.
A year on from the European Super League furore and the ongoing stoking of its resurrection, that sentiment still prevails. It is why persistent bids of any closed-shop competition will continue to fail – and should.
As an American growing up with closed-shop models, emotions were always qualified. The words “battle” or “fears” were never brandished across headlines to describe the NBA or NFL’s marooned teams. Romantic underdog stories never felt outlandishly fanciful. Rivalries were only so biting. Madcap seasons were only so madcap.
Instead, there was talk of next season, of rebuilding, of experiencing a year ‘focusing on academics’ as many universities cheekily refer to their underwhelming seasons. All of which were variations of the same theme: No matter how cack-handed and ham-fisted the bad teams were, always, there was next season.
he temptation arises to hover specifically around the issue of sporting integrity when it comes to closed-shop sport. But there is a particular unadulterated euphoria in watching a 16-year wait for a return to the Premier League come to a riotous end that a closed-shop model cannot breed. Or in a simple scalping from an unsuspecting middling club against a much larger, hairy-chested rival, a scalping that may or not prove costly to that rival’s bid for a European place or, lest one dream, a title challenge or relegation battle.
Despair, too, is felt more viscerally. An ignominious scrape down the league toilet does not just mean remodelling historic “worst” records in one’s own image and writing ‘ bad season ’ in the history books. It means owning up to very real, very dire consequences.
The jeopardy drives the madness. To the uninitiated, the relegation-promotion battles can risk feeling callous and rapacious. Rather, the argument goes, every club should have a fair whack every season. Existence should not be a currency.
Instead, jeopardy is confected through draft lotteries, and while the system stirs up its fair share of romance – the Cincinnati Bengals’ unpredicted run to the Super Bowl this year after 33 long, tragicomic seasons away was rooted in the draft – the romance was conditional. Never in those 33 years did the existential threat of never returning to such great heights truly prickle.
Paris Saint-Germain president, ECA chairman and vociferous ESL opponent Nasser Al-Khelaifi stated recently that the Champions League should feel like a bigger spectacle than the Super Bowl and was reportedly brainstorming ideas for better marketing of the competition with the American model as a blueprint.
The irony is that the 2021 Champions League final drew 700 million viewers and the 2022 Super Bowl had just 112 million viewers. The entertainment value of the Super Bowl as a spectacle is unrivalled. But strip away the pizazz and the cheerleaders and the flashing lights. The flesh is not much of a feast.
Of course, for all the arguments of integrity and genuine romance, football desperately needs to address the giant, fiscal elephant in the room it has been grooming for the last 30 years, or risk inadvertently devolving into a closed shop as results become more comically predictable on the biggest stages.
Because slash the open-shop model entirely, and the result is a hollowed-out shell.
Football, at its best, is entrenched in jeopardy and surprise, hinged on being the universal leveller. Teams can win, they can lose, they can ridiculously topple reputations and forge new ones. They will also, even the biggest and baddest, inescapably fail at some juncture.
Those failures make the successes feel all the more powerful, the near-misses all the more brutal. A closed competition does not foster that same sense of life. Rather, sport occurs in a petri dish, all contrived and made-for-television and TikTok videos.
Put it this way.
If Everton played in the NBA, there would be significantly less headless-chicken bellowing and positing over the 'state' of the club. There also wouldn't be the possibility of Nottingham Forest bidding for a resounding return to the top flight for the first time since the turn of the century.