Six English clubs join breakaway to form new European Super League

BT Sport criticises European Super League plans as having a ‘damaging effect’ on health of domestic football

One stakeholder with more to lose than most

Karl Matchett,Sport Staff
Monday 19 April 2021 16:33
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BT Sport, UK broadcaster of the Premier League and Champions League, says the Super League could have a “damaging effect” on the game.

Amid the many extreme reactions to news of the 12-club instigated proposals, supporters are unlikely to be overly sympathetic toward one of the broadcasters set to be on the wrong end of the deal, given the often extortionate fees needing to be paid over every season to watch matches - and the not-yet-forgotten attempts by the Premier League clubs to charge £15 for games on a pay-per-view basis earlier in the season.

Even so, it’s clear why BT Sport may be feeling more of a flutter of panic than most, at the possibility of some of the biggest clubs on the planet departing a competition they have forked out so much money to cover.

“BT recognises the concerns raised by many of football’s leading voices and fans and believes the formation of a European Super League could have a damaging effect to the long term health of football in this country,” a statement read.

“As a sport broadcaster showing Premier League, UEFA club football and National League football as well as being lead partner for all the home nations football teams, we strongly believe that football makes a significant positive contribution to people’s lives at every level, and this needs to be protected.”

Undoubtedly, the sentiments are correct: football does indeed play a leading role in many households across the country, and the national competition would be poorer if certain clubs were no longer involved.

However, having agreed to spend £1.2 billion to show the Champions League until the end of 2023/24, it’s not difficult to envisage a rather more base reason for BT being up in arms at the news.

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin reiterated his stance in deliberate and direct terms that players partaking in ‘closed’ competitions would be banned from playing in Uefa and Fifa competitions, including the World Cup and European Championships - but also with those clubs no longer participating in the established continental competitions, the Champions League and Europa League.

As such, BT’s contract to show the top competition would be worth a whole lot less if the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Barcelona were no longer involved - meaning it’s no surprise to see them join the clamour demanding a backtrack over plans to launch the breakaway competition.

Additional reporting by PA

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