European Super League: legal adviser’s view delivers blow to ailing project | European Super League

The prospects for a revived European Super League have been knocked back after a key legal opinion argued that Uefa and Fifa are within their rights to impose sanctions on clubs who join any breakaway.

The opinion issued by advocate general Athanasios Rantos at the Court of Justice of the European Union is non-binding and only a potential argument for judges to consider before a final verdict in a case brought by the European Super League Company (ESLC) is delivered next year. But there was no doubt the opinion found heavily in favor of football’s existing powers.

The main findings in the opinion were succinct. “The Fifa-Uefa rules under which any new competition is subject to prior approval are compatible with EU competition law,” Rantos wrote. “Whilst ESLC is free to set up its own independent football competition outside the Uefa and Fifa ecosystem, it cannot however, in parallel with the creation of such a competition, continue to participate in the football competitions organized by Fifa and Uefa without the prior authorization of those federations.”

Last year, when 12 clubs agreed to form a breakaway competition, they did so without the official authorization of Uefa or Fifa. This led to Uefa threatening the clubs with financial sanctions and sporting punishments. The possibility of being unable to compete in the Super League and the clubs’ domestic competitions – combined with a massive public sense of outrage – brought the competition down. If the judges at the CJEU follow the opinion of the advocate general, that threat will be made permanent.

Uefa, the Premier League and La Liga all welcomed the opinion. Uefa said the findings were “unequivocal”, adding: “The opinion reinforces the central role of federations in protecting the sport, upholding fundamental principles of sporting merit and open access across our members, as well as uniting football with shared responsibility and solidarity.

“Football in Europe remains united and steadfastly opposed to the ESL, or any such breakaway proposals, which would threaten the entire European sports ecosystem.

“While we await the Court’s final judgment due next year, Uefa, as a public interest, not-for-profit governing body, will continue to be fully focused on its mission to develop football for all, in close cooperation with national associations, leagues , clubs, players, fans, EU institutions, governments and other relevant stakeholders who have the true values ​​of football at heart.”

The European Club Association, which represents 245 clubs, also welcomed the news. Led until last year by Andrea Agnelli, one of the chief architects of the ESL, the ECA now says it sees the future of club football as being under the umbrella of Uefa.

“ECA exists to promote, represent and serve European football clubs of all shapes and sizes,” said its CEO, Charlie Marshall. “We do this by working hand in hand not only with our members but also with our major stakeholders, none more important than UEFA. This partnership is the foundation of the future sustainability and success of European club football and we look forward to driving its responsible evolution in a way which secures it for future generations, not destroys it.”

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    The three clubs who remain publicly supportive of the ESL project – Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid – did not immediately comment on the opinion. However, Bernd Reichart, CEO of A22 Sports Management, which has been working to promote the ESL, saw the possibility for a more favorable outcome. He said: “The Advocate General made clear that Uefa has a monopolistic position which comes with important responsibilities for enabling third parties to act freely in the market. However, we believe the 15 judges of the Grand Chamber who are entrusted with the responsibility to examine this case, will go substantially further and provide the opportunity for clubs to manage their own destiny in Europe.”

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