The Super League battle lines were redrawn on Tuesday after UEFA reacted furiously to a statement issued by the company behind the breakaway competition.
European football’s governing body had agreed to a meeting with representatives of A22 Sports Management, which is trying to reposition a revived Super League as a competition open to all. The meeting took place at its headquarters in Nyon on Tuesday.
That UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin had agreed to a meeting at all was a big step, considering the ongoing legal battle between UEFA and the Super League and that he had famously described those behind the project as “snakes” and “liars” last year.
A22 Sports Management has published an account of their visit to UEFA HQ in Nyon today.
If there is a “takeaway” from the meeting, it should be that the whole of European football opposes their plan.
Full reaction: ⬇️
— UEFA (@UEFA) November 8, 2022
UEFA’s initial statement after the meeting reiterated that it, along with the clubs, leagues, players’ and fans’ groups present, remained opposed to such breakaway projects.
However, it issued a far harder-hitting release later in the day, after A22 chief executive Bernd Reichart said his “takeaway” from the meeting with UEFA and “other executives” was that “the status quo is satisfactory to UEFA”.
UEFA said: “A22 Sports Management has published an account of their visit to UEFA Headquarters in Nyon today. UEFA is currently checking the recording to see if they are talking about the same meeting.
“The ‘other executives’ they refer to were not faceless bureaucrats but senior stakeholders from across European football, people who live and breathe the game every day. To fail to recognise that is disrespectful.
“If there is a ‘takeaway’ from today, it should be that the whole of European football opposes their greedy plan.”
"It’s good that UEFA accepted our invitation to have an open exchange. The meeting is an important signal to clubs & fans across Europe: we need discussion and it's welcome, even when it's difficult." Here’s our full statement: https://t.co/FwYjqn6R6x.
— A22 Sports (@A22Sports) November 8, 2022
UEFA’s first statement noted with surprise that A22 claimed not to be representing any clubs, with Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid recognised as the three teams who still publicly back the concept of a Super League.
In the later statement, UEFA added: “As the Football Supporters’ Association said, the UK has had as many Prime Ministers in the last two months as (A22) have supporters of their plans.
“(A22) claim not to represent the three remaining clubs. They refuse to define what their alleged new approach is. They claim to want dialogue. But when presented with the chance, they have nothing to say.”
A22 is part of a legal action against UEFA and FIFA, with the European Court of Justice asked to determine whether those organisations abused a dominant position under European Union law by first blocking the creation of the Super League last year and then attempting to sanction the clubs involved.
The Advocate General’s opinion in the case is due to be published on December 15, with a full judgement from the ECJ coming next year.
The Super League was launched with 12 of Europe’s top clubs signed up as founder members in April last year.
ECA statement on European football stakeholders’ meeting with A22 Sports entity: https://t.co/DWMJSzYiSc
— ECA (@ECAEurope) November 8, 2022
It swiftly collapsed amid fan protests in England and opposition from UEFA, FIFA and the British Government.
Nine of the clubs involved have since rejoined the European Club Association, which released its own statement on Tuesday saying it “steadfastly opposed” the Super League project.
The ECA also pointed to changes in football governance which had been cited as grievances by the Super League clubs – namely a greater influence over commercial matters at UEFA via a joint venture, changes to the formats of UEFA’s club competitions and reforms to club financial sustainability regulations.