Newcastle United will be keenly watching developments as possibilities of a European Super League returning in the future had been provided a boost after the companies which developed it sensationally WON their case against UEFA and FIFA.
By preventing the ESL in 2021, UEFA and FIFA were found to have violated EU and competition law, according to the European Court of Justice. Back in April 2021, 12 clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, AC Milan, Internazionale, Juventus, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid came together to try and launch an ESL breakaway competition that would operate outside of the domestic and international competition in which they already competed.
Newcastle were not involved in that deal, of course, but the Premier League environment has changed significantly since then, with the Magpies placing fourth in the table last season and looking to mount another campaign for the Champions League positions again this term.
Co-owner Amanda Staveley stated at the time that United was opposed to any European Super League, and we revealed the previous year that this position remained the same even after Dan Ashworth and Darren Eales joined the team.
The move surprised football and was faced with a violent outcry from clubs, supporters, organisations and politicians, and just 48 hours on from its announcement the plans lay in ruin as football emphatically rejected the notion. Even though nine out of the twelve teams abandoned the ESL, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus stuck with the plan until the latter began taking steps to withdraw from it early this year. The two Spanish titans continue to support the concept.
The company that originated the ESL, A22, has challenged the matter in European courts, arguing that UEFA and FIFA were not allowed to threaten clubs and players with punishment if they attempted to start alternative leagues.
In December last year the ECJ’s attorney general, Athanasios Rantos, delivered his recommendations ahead of a final verdict, which arrived on Thursday morning (December 21). The non-binding judgement of the attorney general said that UEFA and FIFA should have the authority to prevent the formation of new tournaments, like the defunct ESL, and to penalise parties involved in breakaway schemes.
However, such view is no longer supported by the European Court of Justice’s ultimate verdict that FIFA and UEFA engaged in illegal activity. This choice is a victory for A22 and its plans to hold an ESL competition in the future. It is binding and cannot be appealed.
What the ESL has said
A statement on the ruling from the ESL read: “The FIFA and UEFA rules on prior approval of interclub football competitions, such as the Super League, are contrary to EU law.