UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has continued his war path against the much-maligned European Super League, insisting that everyone is against the breakaway plans.
On Sunday night, shockwaves reverberated around the football world when the European Super League plans were announced – a breakaway tournament that would replace the respective clubs’ European commitments with UEFA, such as the Champions League.
England’s Big Six – Manchester United, Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham – alongside Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan are founding members of the controversial Super League.
Aleksander Ceferin continued his war path against the European Super League on Tuesday
Ceferin launched a scathing attack on the plans on Monday – blasting those ‘snakes’ and ‘liars’ for making it happen – and just one day on he continued to make his resentful feelings known.
‘All the Governments are with us, all the fans are with us, all the media, only some greedy people, a few, are on the other side,’ Ceferin insisted in a damning speech on Tuesday morning.
‘Are we allowing them to take football? No. You can trust me, we will not allow it.’
The Super League – which will see the founding members receiving up to £300million each when it starts and guaranteeing them a place on Europe’s top table every season – has come in for immense criticism worldwide.
Along with the Spanish and Italian clubs, United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham are looking to create a near closed shop to replace UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League.
The plan is to expand the competition to 15 founder members – with a further five annual qualifiers – but there will no relegation for the big founding clubs, even if they finished bottom which would take away the competitive instinct that makes football so special.
Currently, teams have to qualify each year for the Champions League through their domestic leagues, but the Super League would lock in 15 places every season for the founding members.
Liverpool fans protest outside Anfield on Monday amid the European Super League plans
Ceferin added on Tuesday: ‘The ultimate aim for some is no longer to decorate the club’s trophy cabinet with silverware but fill the bank account with cash. Contempt for smaller clubs, for supporters respectful of traditions is replacing ethics.
‘Selfishness is replacing solidarity. Some CEOs change clubs like they change their shirts, or even faster. Money has become more important that glory, greed more important than loyalty and dividends much more important than passion.
‘We hear day and night about owners. What or whom do they own? Football does not belong to anyone, rather it belongs to everyone. Football is part of our heritage. The Champions League is part of our heritage. Everyone here is just passing through but our purpose is perennial, we are custodians of an idea, that of open competitions in which everyone can dream.
‘Respect for history, respect for tradition, respect for others. This means something to us, this means a lot. Some think that in order to succeed we need to copy another model but there is a reason European football leads the world at both club and national team level. It is based on a clear model that has stood the test of time. A model based on diversity.
‘UEFA competitions needs Atalanta, Celtic, Rangers, Dinamo Zagrebs and Galatasarays of this world. People need to know that everything is possible. People need to know everyone has a chance. We need to keep the dream alive.
‘The big clubs today were not necessarily big clubs in the past and there is no guarantee they will be big clubs in the future. Football is dynamic and football is unpredictable, this is what makes it such a beautiful game, so popular and so successful.
‘Where were Manchester United in the decade before Sir Alex arrived on the scene? Do you remember? Where were Juventus 15 years ago? In Serie B. If the clubs that dominated European football 30 or 40 years ago had decided to form a Super League, what would it have looked like?
‘We would have Nottingham Forest, Aston Villa, Hamburg, Steaua Bucharest, Porto, PSV and Red Star. These were Europe’s cream of the crop back then. That would be a Super League back then. But football changes. Some don’t understand, they see only the changes on their bank accounts and nowhere else.
‘Those clubs who think they are big and untouchable now should remember where they have come from. They should realise that if they are European giants today, it is partly thanks to UEFA which over 60 years has been protecting competitions based solely on sporting merit. Without UEFA, who knows where they would be.
‘It seems a tiny handful of club bosses have been trying to profit from the situation of late, to get their hands on this heritage of ours. They have been trying to privatise football. One of society’s last remaining collective essences. Someone wants to privatise it.
‘But we are ready, we even expected them. We didn’t know when they would come but it was no surprise. We had already developed our vision, a vision we have been working on for two years and we have the backing of the vast majority of clubs.’
The Premier League’s Big Six’ have received huge backlash for agreeing to take a seat on the Super League, with fans of all those respective clubs protesting against the decision and their beloved teams’ ownership.
And Ceferin has now urged United, City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea to perform a U-turn after making such a ‘huge mistake’.
‘At this point I would like to address the owners of some English clubs,’ Ceferin went on during his powerful speech.
‘Gentlemen, you made huge mistake. Some will say it is greed, others disdain, arrogance, flippancy, complete ignorance of England’s football culture. But actually it doesn’t matter.
‘What matters is there is still time to change your mind, everyone makes mistakes. English fans deserve to have you correct your mistake, they deserve respect.’
More to follow…
SUPER LEAGUE FULL STATEMENT AND COMPETITION FORMAT
Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have today [Sunday] come together to announce they have agreed to establish a new mid-week competition, the Super League, governed by its Founding Clubs.
AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as Founding Clubs.
It is anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable. Going forward, the Founding Clubs look forward to holding discussions with UEFA and FIFA to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcomes for the new League and for football as a whole.
The formation of the Super League comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model. Further, for a number of years, the Founding Clubs have had the objective of improving the quality and intensity of existing European competitions throughout each season, and of creating a format for top clubs and players to compete on a regular basis.
The pandemic has shown that a strategic vision and a sustainable commercial approach are required to enhance value and support for the benefit of the entire European football pyramid.
In recent months extensive dialogue has taken place with football stakeholders regarding the future format of European competitions. The Founding Clubs believe the solutions proposed following these talks do not solve fundamental issues, including the need to provide higher quality matches and additional financial resources for the overall football pyramid.
• 20 participating clubs with 15 Founding Clubs and a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season.
• Midweek fixtures with all participating clubs continuing to compete in their respective national leagues, preserving the traditional domestic match calendar which remains at the heart of the club game.
• An August start with clubs participating in two groups of ten, playing home and away fixtures, with the top three in each group automatically qualifying for the quarter finals.
Teams finishing fourth and fifth will then compete in a two-legged play-off for the remaining quarter-final positions. A two-leg knockout format will be used to reach the final at the end of May, which will be staged as a single fixture at a neutral venue.
As soon as practicable after the start of the men’s competition, a corresponding women’s league will also be launched, helping to advance and develop the women’s game.
The new annual tournament will provide significantly greater economic growth and support for European football via a long-term commitment to uncapped solidarity payments which will grow in line with league revenues. These solidarity payments will be substantially higher than those generated by the current European competition and are expected to be in excess of €10 billion (£8.7bn) during the course of the initial commitment period of the Clubs.
In addition, the competition will be built on a sustainable financial foundation with all Founding Clubs signing up to a spending framework. In exchange for their commitment, Founding Clubs will receive an amount of €3.5 billion (£3bn) solely to support their infrastructure investment plans and to offset the impact of the COVID pandemic. Florentino Perez, President of Real Madrid and the first Chairman of the Super League said: ‘We will help football at every level and take it to its rightful place in the world. Football is the only global sport in the world with more than four billion fans and our responsibility as big clubs is to respond to their desires.’
Backing the new European league, Andrea Agnelli, Chairman of Juventus and Vice-Chairman of the Super League said: ‘Our 12 Founder clubs represent billions of fans across the globe and 99 European trophies. We have come together at this critical moment, enabling European competition to be transformed, putting the game we love on a sustainable footing for the long-term future, substantially increasing solidarity, and giving fans and amateur players a regular flow of headline fixtures that will feed their passion for the game while providing them with engaging role models.’
Joel Glazer, Co-Chairman of Manchester United and Vice-Chairman of the Super League said: ‘By bringing together the world’s greatest clubs and players to play each other throughout the season, the Super League will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world class competition and facilities, and increased financial support for the wider football pyramid.’