Speaking at La Liga-sponsored event called “Defending the European Football Ecosystem and Tradition,” President Javier Tebas warned clubs, supporters, and legislators about how football is under “an attack” from the European Super League’s (ESL) backers.
According to him, such a move would give the wealthiest clubs total control and lead to the destruction of local leagues.
The idea of the European Super League initially came into the spotlight in April 2021, when 12 so-called giants of European football signed up for a breakway tournament. The concept aimed at setting up a new competition involving 20 clubs, with 15 permanent and five guests. The latter would be selected each season based on the results of their previous domestic seasons.
The idea had witnessed immediate backlash from fans as well as the footballing bodies across Europe, with La Liga President Javier Tebas being one of the most vocal opponents.
Out of the 12 clubs, nine, including the big six Premier League sides, issued statements of withdrawing their proposals for the European Super League in the subsequent days. The only three that remained onboard the plan were Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus.
La Liga President Javier Tebas talks about how European football must be protected from the European Super League
At the conference, President Tebas targeted Real Madrid President Florentino Perez by saying:
“The highest representative of the European Super League is Florentino Perez, who is the president of a Spanish club. According to this model, the richest or the ones with the most assets govern football, and they distribute the money how they feel. They don ‘t want a third institute like UEFA or even the league to establish the ways of how to distribute money.”
Tebas cited Perez had previously said that the European Super League would “save football at this critical moment.” He further called this “a complete attack on European football.” Elaborating on the European football model that Tebas was trying to defend, he added:
“National leagues, domestic leagues, they should be strong. On a competitive level, they need to have promotion and relegation. If you have a model which is based on promotion and relegation, we would have a closed model. So if there are 20 teams in the ESL, 15 or 16 will almost always be the same teams.”
The La Liga-sponsored event also included academics, broadcasters, European Parliament members, and representatives from clubs and fan organisations.
They were all unified in their opposition to the creation of a European Super League, arguing that it would be anti-competitive, reduce funding to grassroots organizations and smaller teams, undermine international football, and numerous other things.
The Premier League’s net expenditure in the summer of 2022 exceeded £1 billion for the first time, according to Deloitte. They also observed that English clubs were in charge of 49% of spending in the top five leagues during the window, the largest share since 2008.
Tebas questioned the viability of such expenditures and demanded that English football be subject to the same regulations as those in Spain and Germany. Expressing his concerns about him, Tebas said:
“What I’m worried about is the Premier League, and I’ve been worried for many years now. But now it’s converted into a competition that has losses all year. All clubs lose money. The Premier League is not a financially sustainable model .”
Further emphasizing his point, he added:
“They’re financed by the owners but with huge amounts of money and that is distorting the market. They get more revenues, OK. But you lose money. And you’re injecting one and a half billion every year. What does it mean ?”
Speaking about the “ideal” European football model, Tebas said:
“We are talking about a model that is based on domestic leagues, promotion and relegation, but European competition has to be open to all teams with different variables that always have been. This is the model we have to defend.”
According to the La Liga’s rules, clubs must spend no more than their annual income during transfer windows and are not permitted to sign players if they are operating at a loss. Tebas made it clear that he wanted the English game to have comparable rules, adding that:
“You need financial sustainability. We can compete with the Premier League without any problem at all. I’m not worried about the fact that the 15th position team in the Premier League signs a Spanish player. I’m worried about the fact that they sign them when they’re making losses. Because we don’t allow our clubs to do that.”
Speaking about the company set up to run the European Super League, the Madrid-based A22, he mentioned:
“They are claiming that they are the good people and explaining how excellent they are. Please don’t fall in their trap because they are not true. Sometimes they are selling models based on sports merit but they are not actually sports merit programs.”
According to a La Liga report, if a European Super League were to be established, it would “destroy national leagues in the short term,” with the majority of clubs reporting a 55% decline in revenue.
The analysis, conducted for La Liga by the accounting company KPMG, claimed that Real Madrid and Barcelona, the league’s “big two” clubs, would stand to make an additional €400 million in yearly revenue from their participation in the Super League.