Boris Johnson calls European Super League a cartel

JP Morgan admits it ‘clearly misjudged’ fans’ reaction to European Super League

Wall Street bank expresses regret over plans to provide €3.25bn of funding to new competition after backlash from fans, players and politicians

Ben Chapman@b_c_chapman
Friday 23 April 2021 18:34
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JP Morgan has admitted it “clearly misjudged” how football fans would react to an attempt by 12 of the world’s richest football clubs to form a breakaway European Super League (ESL).

The Wall Street bank had agreed to provide €3.25bn of funding for the ESL, to be paid back over 23 years from broadcast rights income.

But the new league, which would have shielded a clique of wealthy clubs from competition, was all but dead within two days of being announced after an angry backlash from fans, players and politicians.

JP Morgan issued a statement on Friday expressing regret about its involvement.

The Wall Street bank said: “We clearly misjudged how this deal would be viewed in the wider football community and how it might impact them in future. We will learn from this.”

JP Morgan’s statement came only after the plans all but collapsed. The six English clubs that had planned to take part – Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea – had all withdrawn by Tuesday evening.

A source told CNN that the deal had been vetted by an internal JP Morgan committee which assesses potential reputational risks.

“There’s always a large emotional component to [sports],” the source said. “When you’re making a financial decision on a loan, you have to try to put emotion aside.”

The committee failed to gauge the level of fury the the new league would generate among football fans who have become increasingly disillusioned with the billionaire owners of many of the top clubs.

JP Morgan's reputation has taken a battering over the European Super League, with fans mocking the bank on social media.

The fallout could be a problem for JP Morgan as it presses ahead with plans to launch a retail bank in the UK later this year.

Plans for a new competition for Europe’s elite football teams provoked united condemnation from across the sport and on all sides of the political spectrum.

Heads of government including France’s Emmanuel Macron and Italy’s Mario Draghi denounced the plans. Boris Johnson labelled the ESL a “cartel”.

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