La Liga president sees breakaway European Super League idea as ‘a bit of a joke’

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus stated their intention to carry on planning for a Super League on Friday.

Jamie Gardner
Saturday 31 July 2021 15:56
Banners protesting against the Super League were placed outside Anfield after Liverpool announced in April they were founder members of the new competition, a decision they quickly reversed (Peter Byrne/PA)
Banners protesting against the Super League were placed outside Anfield after Liverpool announced in April they were founder members of the new competition, a decision they quickly reversed (Peter Byrne/PA)

The idea of a Super League remains “a bit of a joke” to La Liga president Javier Tebas but he gave the rebel clubs some credit for suggesting they want to work with the game’s authorities in their latest statement.

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus issued a communique on Friday evening indicating their intention to carry on with the hugely controversial project, but said they were keen to work in a “constructive and co-operative manner, always counting on all football stakeholders”.

The PA news agency understands plans for a redeveloped Super League would involve the competition being 100 per cent open, with no club holding permanent membership. That is in stark contrast to the initial proposal, where the 15 proposed founder members of the 20-team competition were immune from relegation.

It would in theory also soften the opposition to it from domestic leagues, who were worried about the prospect of a Super League cannibalising the sporting and commercial value of their competitions.

The statement also referenced a new court order issued in Madrid, which the Super League clubs believe serves as an interim injunction preventing Uefa from continuing with disciplinary proceedings against them, or even pursuing the proposed peace agreements with the nine clubs who withdrew from the project.

Tebas told the media at a gala event for La Liga on Friday evening: “First of all, it’s the same judge as always, so he was always going to rule in a similar fashion.

“If this particular judge has already made his views on the issue clear he’s not going to change his mind. It would be a joke if he did change his mind. In my opinion, the whole thing is a bit of a joke, but it would be even more so if he were to do that.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is understood to have vowed to drop a “legislative bomb” on England’s would-be Super League clubs if they had proceeded with their plans (Tolga Akmen/PA)

The Super League was launched on April 18 but had collapsed within 72 hours amid fan outrage, and strong opposition from Uefa, Fifa, the British government and even the Royal Family.

The league’s supporters maintain such a competition is needed to fix the current system, which they say is broken. Ultimately, the European Court of Justice is set to decide at some point next year whether Uefa’s actions in blocking the league’s foundation and seeking to sanction the clubs breached European competition law.

Earlier this month, PA learned that the ECJ had rejected a request from the Super League for an expedited decision in the case.

If the Super League succeeds, it would change the face of European football and open up the possibility of new, cross-border competitions springing up beyond Uefa’s jurisdiction.

Tebas did at least draw some encouragement from how the latest statement was worded.

“They [the three clubs] are increasingly charitable,” he said.

“Now they’re talking about working with the leagues, with Uefa, Fifa, how we’re going to fix all the world’s ills together. At least now they’re talking about working together.

“I remember the words of the Real Madrid president [Florentino Perez] on [television show] El Chiringuito [in April], he told us not to worry, that he would organise everything and that they would hand out breadcrumbs here and there. Now they’re taking a step forward in the right direction at least.”

In June the Premier League reached an agreement with the six clubs from its competition who were involved, under which they would make a combined £22million payment towards grassroots football and agreed that a further attempt to form such a league would lead to them being docked 30 points and being fined £25million each.

The Super League rebel clubs claim the Madrid injunction means the Premier League must unwind those agreements or be liable for fines or criminal charges.

The fan-led review commissioned by the UK government in April in the wake of the Super League news and chaired by MP Tracey Crouch returned its interim findings on 22 July.

It talked about clubs being licensed by an independent regulator in order to prevent any future breakaway attempts, while also proposing a ‘golden share’ veto for fans’ groups should their club seek to join a new competition.

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