The agents of Premier League stars have flagged a clause in players’ contracts that states a club must ‘not do anything that stops a player featuring for his country’ as the row over a breakaway European Super League rumbles on.
The so-called Big Six of the Premier League, as well as three Spanish and three Italian teams, have faced enormous backlash after the unveiling of proposals for a breakaway tournament on Sunday.
The plan has been roundly condemned by both the FA and the Premier League while UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has warned players who take part could be banned from representing their countries in the World Cup and European Championships.
The Premier League’s Big Six could be in breach of their players’ contracts with a breakaway competition
Premier League stars are already discussing their concerns over the plans in a WhatsApp chat
But, according to The Athletic, clause 6.1.1 of a typical Premier League player’s contract declares a 2club ‘should not do anything that stops a player featuring for his country’.
It also insists clubs must follow ‘the statutes and regulations of FIFA and UEFA and the FA Rules and League Rules’, suggesting a club would break those terms if they walked away from those competitions as is being planned.
An agent also told The Athletic: ‘So if the club proactively does something that stops them being an international footballer, does that invalidate the contract? Do the club then potentially have no assets on the books?’
It comes after a legal expert told Sportsmail this week that Super League clubs would have a good chance of winning any legal battle with UEFA if they tried to block plans for the breakaway competition.
The Super League has said it has already commenced legal action ‘in the relevant courts’, to head off any challenge from UEFA to its radical plans.
Mark Orth, an expert in sports competition law at MEOlaw in Munich, told Sportsmail he thinks the rebels will succeed if the row goes to court based on competition law and precedents set in previous cases.
Aleksander Ceferin, president of UEFA, has warned stars will be banned from international tournaments
‘I am of the opinion they have a strong case,’ said Orth, who has advised football clubs on this area of law.
‘The court is the right way to go. They have a good chance of winning. There are good prospects for the start of the Super League and the clubs that take part.’
Orth’s confidence in the Super League case is based in part on the fact that two European courts have now passed judgements overturning similar moves by other sporting federations, making the threat by football’s governing bodies appear hollow.
The European Commission has previously ruled that the International Skating Union cannot prevent speed skaters from participating in new money-spinning events. That decision was supported in a judgement in Europe’s second highest court, the General Court in Luxembourg, in December.
And in January, a German court took that decision as a precedent when it prevented the national and international wrestling federations from blocking a new competition.
Premier League captains are already said to be discussing the breakaway Super League on their WhatsApp group. An England national team regular is believed to have said: ‘This is mad. I can’t believe it.’
The owners of Manchester United and Liverpool are the driving forces of the Super League
The Premier League has called its other 14 clubs to an emergency shareholders’ meeting on Tuesday morning, to which the so-called Big Six have not been invited.
There has been widespread anger at the failure of any of the wealthy overseas owners of the clubs involved to come forward to justify the plan, with accusations that it was being driven by greed.
Fans and former players alike lined up to condemn a scheme which they said would create a closed shop of elite teams which would not have to qualify for the competition and could not be relegated.
Even Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised football fans he will do everything possible to give the ‘ludicrous’ new league a ‘straight red’ and the Duke of Cambridge – who is the president of the Football Association – was among those who voiced his dismay at the ‘damage’ the plan would do to the national game.
The plan – which also includes the Spanish sides Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona and Italian clubs AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan – has support from investment bank JP Morgan, which will provide debt financing for the competition.
It is understood it will underwrite around $6billion (£4.3bn) in loans for teams involved.
It would see the breakaway teams create a competition to rival the Champions League, but it would not feature relegation or promotion. Teams would play each other in midweek while still competing in their domestic leagues.