UEFA says its ‘opposition to self-proclaimed Super League remains overwhelming’

Representatives from the company behind the European Super League have been told UEFA remains opposed to the concept, along with the continent’s clubs, leagues, players and fans.

A22, a company which was behind the organisation of the hugely controversial project initially launched by 12 of Europe’s top clubs in April last year, had requested a meeting with UEFA as it bids to reposition itself as an open and inclusive competition.

That meeting took place on Tuesday with senior officials from European football’s governing body joined by players’ and fans’ representatives, along with club and league executives, and afterwards UEFA stated that “opposition to the self-proclaimed super league remains overwhelming today as it has been since April 2021”.

The Super League collapsed when nine of the founder clubs – including the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ – withdrew within 72 hours of the league’s foundation being confirmed.

That left only the presidents of Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid as advocates of the project.

However, UEFA’s statement added: “The participants took note, with surprise, the claims of A22 Sports CEO (Bernd Reichart) that this company is not representing any clubs in any capacity, including the three clubs who continue to openly support the project.”

The nine clubs who renounced the Super League have since rejoined the European Club Association (ECA), which was represented at the meeting.

It released a statement saying it was “steadfastly opposed” to any breakaway project and added: “ECA was firmly against such concepts in April 2021; the same remains true in 2022.”

It pointed to governance reforms which it feels address many of the initial grievances which prompted the breakaway – the creation of a joint venture giving clubs greater input to commercial matters related to UEFA’s club competitions, changes to the format of those competitions, and changes to the financial sustainability rules which apply to clubs.

A22 is part of the legal action against UEFA and FIFA, in which it is claimed those organisations abused a dominant position under European Union competition law by blocking the creation of the Super League and then in seeking to sanction the participants.

The case was heard at the European Court of Justice earlier this year, and the Advocate General’s opinion on the matter is due to be published on December 15, with the full judgement due next year.

A22 chief executive Bernd Reichart said: “Our takeaway from the meeting was that the status quo is satisfactory to UEFA. This position was anticipated as UEFA has been the sole, dominant operator of European club competitions since 1955.

“This monopoly structure is currently being reviewed by the Court of Justice of the European Union which is expected to deliver its conclusions in spring 2023.”

He added: “A22 will continue its efforts to reform football, informed by the views of a wide group of stakeholders including clubs, fans, players, leagues, policy makers and other parties.

“We are heartened by the fact that we have already been contacted by and are in conversations with numerous clubs who wish to take part in this dialogue to develop a sustainable foundation for European club football.”

Supporter opposition to the Super League was key to English clubs withdrawing from the competition, and the scandal surrounding the issue led to the British Government bringing forward the commissioning of the fan-led review, which had been a Conservative Party General Election manifesto pledge in 2019.

The review recommended, among other things, the proper consultation of fans via shadow boards and additional protection of key club heritage items.

The Premier League and its clubs on Tuesday approved the introduction of a Fan Engagement Standard (FES), which clubs will be assessed on from the start of next season.

The FES commits clubs to creating Fan Advisory Boards, but it is understood the FES will not require these advisory boards to have any powers of veto. Clubs will also have the final say on which heritage assets fans have the right to be consulted on.

The FES requires clubs to nominate a board-level official to lead on fan engagement. Compliance with the FES will be a disciplinary matter.