Javier Tebas warns that the new Premier League is planning a new “attack” on European football

La Liga president Javier Tebas has warned clubs, fans and lawmakers that backers of the European Super League (ESL) are still planning an “attack” on the game that leaves all power with the richest clubs and “destroys” the domestic leagues.

Speaking at a conference in Brussels on Thursday, Tebas said the threat from the three clubs who refused to abandon the ESL plan – Barcelona, ​​Juventus and Real Madrid – Remain real Those who love football should not be fooled by their recent claim that they have learned lessons from the failed launch of the breakaway competition in April 2021.

The La Liga-sponsored event at which Tebas spoke was called “Defending the European Football Ecosystem and Tradition” and featured academics, broadcasters, members of the European Parliament and representatives of clubs and fan groups.

They were all united in their opposition to the creation of the UEFA Super League, claiming that it was anti-competitive and would see less money spent on the pyramid for smaller and more popular clubs, as well as harming international football.

The company set up to run ESL, Madrid-based A22, is sponsoring its own event in Brussels on Friday – titled “The Future of Sport Governance in Europe: The Times They A-Changin” – and Tebas believes it will finally reveal what the new idea of ​​the ESL format is. .

When the league first launched 21 months ago, the idea was for a mid-week league competition, which would rival the UEFA Champions League, with 15 permanent members and five more clubs, although only 12 clubs signed up and it was not made clear how. The other five will qualify or if invited only.

And with ESL collapsing so quickly – the embarrassing withdrawal from the Premier League’s “Big Six” killed the league within 48 hours of its launch – neither its clubs nor its financial backers have ever had a chance to explain how the format works, when it will start, by whom. He will broadcast it and many other essential questions.


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But, unlike the six clubs in the English Premier League and the trio of regrets from Milan, Atletico Madrid, Inter, Barcelona, ​​Juventus and Real Madrid did not abandon the project and did not accept the financial penalty imposed by UEFA for conspiring to secede.

Instead, they have, under the A22 umbrella, taken UEFA and FIFA to the European Court of Justice, alleging that the game’s governing bodies had abused their dominant positions, in violation of EU competition law, when they announced a disciplinary measure against UEFA. clubs.

The Luxembourg-based court heard this argument in August, and the court’s attorney general, Greek jurist Athanasios Rantos, gave his written opinion on the matter last month.

It was, to the chagrin of A22 and ESL, a huge win for UEFA, upholding its right to prevent the creation of new competitions that could damage the wider industry.

Rantos’ opinion is not legally binding, but the European Court of Justice is expected to follow suit when it announces its final decision on March 15. However, the referee is unlikely to give UEFA unrestricted powers to impede potential opponents, as his actions must be justified. Through legitimate goals, such as ensuring that sport remains fair and open to all.

This is why the discussion has moved on to what the A22 will do next. If, for example, a format can be worked out that doesn’t look like an attempt by the continent’s wealthiest clubs to create an NFL-style closed shop, then any future effort to get ESL off the ground could be more fortunate.

It is understood that while Tebas was speaking at his event in Brussels, A22 was announcing his event on Twitter.

“How do you organize the EU system for sporting competitions where values ​​such as open competition, promotion and relegation are guaranteed?” One such tweet said A22.

Tebas, however, is convinced he knows what A22 is planning and has been saying this for several months now.

The 60-year-old lawyer turned soccer boss believes ESL’s new plan is to create two 20-team divisions, with four teams relegated from one division up, four teams the other way, and the bottom four. In the second tier they are replaced by teams who have secured their places through their domestic championships.

If he is right, and his theory is widely held, it is similar to the idea of ​​UEFA and the European Club Association (ECA) considered in 2019 when former Juventus president, and leading advocate of English as a second language, Andrea Agnelli, led by UEFA (Juventus). That plan involved turning the clubs’ three separate European competitions into three divisions, with retention of places, promotion and relegation, and some degree of rotation based on domestic success.

However, this idea sparked an angry response from the local leagues, who said that they would reduce interest in their competitions, which would lead to lower revenues, which would further skew the competitive balance towards the largest clubs in Europe. Those leagues, and most of their clubs, feel exactly the same about the European Premier League.


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The European Super League will “destroy the national leagues in Europe” – Tebas

“Let’s be very clear, A22 and these three clubs are the same thing, and A22 is not a charitable organization – this is about controlling the distribution of funds,” Tebas said on Thursday.

“Don’t be fooled by talk of ups and downs: 16 clubs will be the same every season and it will be a closed league. Tomorrow they will submit the same 2019 forms that clubs and leagues told them wouldn’t work.

European competition should be open to all, with access to it via domestic competition. Don’t fall into their trap. They are trying to sell us an open competition but the gap between the ESL clubs and the rest will only get bigger and they will destroy the local leagues.”

A22 previously rejected claims by Tebas that its revised ESL format would be based on the 2019 proposals. “A22 is currently pursuing an open dialogue to develop the best format for European football – that process is ongoing. However, we have made it clear time and time again that the competition will be based on open access and sporting merit and will fully respect existing domestic leagues,” an A22 spokesperson told The Athletic.

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) indicated that UEFA should open the way for new competitions. The path of change is real and will ultimately provide the opportunity for clubs to manage their own destiny in Europe.

“A22 is preparing for that moment and will present the results of the dialogue in due course.”

La Liga president Javier Tebas (Photo: Getty Images)

La Liga president Javier Tebas (Photo: Getty Images)

Tebas may be at odds with the biggest clubs in his league over their ambitions to make more money from European competition, but he’s not the defender of the American-style competitive balance some might wish: in fact, he seems quite comfortable about it. The idea of ​​the big clubs winning everything, as long as they don’t win too much.

When asked if he was worried about the declining competitive balance across Europe, Tebas said: “Bayern will always win (the Bundesliga) but the problem is they win by a mile.

“If you think about the league, the problem is when the winner gets more than 90 points, because we want other clubs to fight to win – we don’t want too predictable leagues.”

Tebas, never afraid to ruffle feathers, also had a grenade up his sleeve for the league that A22 was suggesting was the real European league: the English Premier League.

“I’m not worried that the Premier League has increased its revenues – and that means the rest of us have to fight harder – but I’m worried that the Premier League is not financially sustainable,” he said.

“All their clubs are incurring losses and funded by their owners. It distorts the market. We can compete with the Premier League, no problem. And I don’t mind if the 15th team in the league buys a Spanish player. But they do it with owners’ money and it’s not sustainable.”

“We will not let our clubs do that. There are only two sustainable leagues in Europe: La Liga and the Bundesliga.”


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The FIFA-UEFA Regulations do not violate the European Union Competition Law – ECJ

(Photo: Getty Images)

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