Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Football Clubs’ Farcical Hour

Premier League football clubs Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham were involved in a failed attempt to create a breakaway from Champion’s League football by setting up “a new mid-week competition, the Super League, governed by its Founding Clubs,” according to the press release on Sunday, April 18 from European Super League Company, S.L.

The announcement was greeted with dismay by loyal fans, including Prince William as President of the Football Association, who Tweeted: “I share the concerns of fans about the proposed Super League and the damage it risks causing to the game we love. W.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a briefing at No.10 confirming he would get involved to block the plans, while UEFA and the Premier League made strong statements against the move. The 55 UEFA member associations meeting in Switzerland for the 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress all voted unanimously against the Super League, stating: “The conspirator clubs have obviously failed to see that their status today was not achieved in isolation, but rather was part of a dynamic European system where big, medium and small clubs have all contributed to the successes and losses of everyone.”

Football clubs’ move financially motivated

The British clubs’ move to be founding members of the Super League seems to have been financially motivated. JP Morgan Chase bank revealed it had intended to fund the new European club to the tune of £2.8 billion, (US$3.9), with each founding club receiving a joining fee of between £173m and £276m (US$241-US$384).

The Super League website made it clear that solidarity payments to the founders could be more than €10 billion (US$13.9) during the initial commitment term, which may have been 23 years, the same length of the bankrolling investment by JP Morgan. 

The lack of transparency with the Super League itself has caused repercussions as the clubs’ reputations were damaged, and JP Morgan had its Non-Financial Sustainability Ratings based on policies and results around sustainable development downgraded by the London-based analyst firm Standard Ethics to “non-compliant.”

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The announcement was greeted with dismay by loyal fans, including Prince William as President of the Football Association. (Image: Dreamstime.com © Phillip Gray)

According to its press release on April 21: “Standard Ethics judges both the orientations shown by the football clubs involved in the project and those of the U.S. Bank to be contrary to Sustainability best practices, which are defined by the agency according to UN, OECD and European Union guidelines, and take into account the interests of the stakeholders.”

The Big Six Premier League clubs all pulled out of the European Super League after being dubbed the  “Shameless Six” by the media. They were shocked at the backlash from fans, who have been protesting outside football grounds since the news broke.

The feelings of many were summed up by Prince William, who tweeted: “I’m glad the united voice of football fans has been heard and listened to. It is now really important that we use this moment to secure the future health of the game at all levels. As President of the FA, I’m committed to playing my part in that work. W.” The fans may have the last say as the Guardian reported that 60 percent of those polled by the Observer want the clubs punished in some way and it is likely that some type of reform is brought in to stop this from happening again.

As of April 24, the BBC reported Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said that the 12 founding clubs of the European Super League have “binding contracts” and “cannot leave.” However, nine of the clubs that joined the Super League, including England’s big six, have signed a letter apologizing for the attempted move and have recommitted themselves to Uefa. They have agreed to give money to the grassroots game as recompense.

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