European football is on the verge of collapse: 12 major clubs launched the “Premier League” on Monday, a special competition set to replace the UEFA Champions League, a declaration of war that UEFA promised to respond by excluding dissident teams and their players.
It is an earthquake unprecedented in nearly 70 years of European competitions: After decades of shaking the specter of division, the continent’s top leaders are finally taking their place with Real Madrid, Barcelona, at their head. Liverpool or Manchester United, all C1 winners and global brands.
Shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, the royal sport in Europe sees its future appear in dotted lines, as with the current pyramid system to redistribute TV resources between C1, a major competition, and the national leagues. It is clear that the rebel clubs are claiming the establishment of a controversial semi-closed league system comparable to the North American Basketball Championship (NBA) or the NFL Championship, a possibility that FIFA will be “rejected” on Monday.
Twelve of the most important European clubs announced that they had reached an agreement to create a new competition, Premier LeagueIt is governed by the founding clubs. Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, FC Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham have united as founding clubs. ”
“The opening season (…) will start as soon as possible,” the text continues, without specifying a precise timetable.
According to a source familiar with the negotiations, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain have been contacted. But the finalists in the last C1 did not follow through, prompting UEFA to publicly thank “German and French clubs” for their loyalty.
The new competition, its promoters have made clear, is doomed to “generate additional resources for the entire football pyramid”.
“In exchange for their commitment, the founding clubs will receive a lump sum of about 3.5 billion euros earmarked solely for investments in infrastructure and offsetting the impact of the COVID-19 crisis,” continued the organizers, who also promised a Women’s Super League. .
If this figure is confirmed, it assumes much higher revenues than UEFA’s for all club competitions (UEFA Champions League, Europa League, UEFA Super Cup), which generated $ 3.2 billion. TV revenues in 2018-2019, by a pandemic that severely affected the European sports rights market.
According to its promoters, the Premier League will run as a regular season between 20 clubs, fifteen of them (the “founding clubs”, the 12 mentioned clubs, and three additional ones yet to be determined) are automatically qualified every year and five others are selected “through the system. It depends on their performance from the previous season. ”
At the end of this first phase which begins in August, playoff matches will be held until May to award the cup.
Matches are primarily held in the middle of the week, and compete directly with the Champions League chests, but not with the national tournaments that are traditionally held on weekends.
Threat of exclusion
It remains to be seen what responses UEFA and Fifa, the less advanced on this topic, will bring to this disengagement attempt, compared to those in European basketball, between the Euroleague and the Basketball Champions League (FIBA).
FIFA responded, “It can only reject a closed and split European association,” by calling on all parties to “a calm, constructive and balanced dialogue” on this issue.
UEFA warned, in a press release signed by several national championships, on Sunday that any dissident club will be excluded from national and international competitions, and that its players can no longer play with the national team, for example in Euros or in. world Cup.
It will be essential to find out if this threat complies with European competition law, indicating a potential legal battle.
The launch of this Premier League comes anyway when UEFA meets on Monday with its executive committee to agree to reform the UEFA Champions League by 2024.
Initially, the executive committee of the European soccer governing body should have approved the reform without much difficulty, with the mapping of the euro host cities completed this summer. But the big club launcher cluttered the cards.
Meanwhile, anti-Premier League attitudes multiplied on Sunday, among representatives of supporters but also among political leaders, from the Elysee Palace in France to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom.
The French presidency criticized a project that “threatens the principle of solidarity and sporting merit,” and Sports Minister Roxana Maracinho denounced “a club of VIPs of little influence.”