The rise and fall of the Super League: in 48 hours, this private competition project carried by twelve major dissident clubs set European football on fire and blood … before faltering in the face of the defections of five of the six English clubs, taken away by Manchester City.
A story of two days that almost changed the face of European football, before turning into a bad joke.
Sunday April 18, 5:19 p.m. PST
The rumor returned periodically, which had prompted the European Football Union (UEFA) and the International Federation (Fifa) to publish an unusual joint statement in January: the two bodies threatened with sanction any possible secessionists wishing to develop a private European competition. and competitor of the Champions League, flagship event of UEFA since 1955. But Sunday, the threat becomes clearer as the European body is preparing to adopt the next day a reform of the C1, however more favorable to the big clubs to which the authority intends to guarantee more matches, therefore income. At 5:19 p.m., sensing the imminent formalization of the Super League project, UEFA drew a preventive press release threatening to exclude from any national and international competition the clubs which participate in a private league, as well as their players. A rare occurrence in sporting matters, an area where the Elysée usually remains in the background, the French presidency also denounces a project « threatening the principle of solidarity and sporting merit ».
Monday, April 19, 12:01 a.m.
A three-page press release, with the header « The Super League », falls into journalists’ mailboxes and has the effect of a bomb: twelve clubs among the richest (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool …) announce that they are creating their almost closed competition, with 15 full members and five guests each season. This paradigm shift, in a pyramidal European football built on the principle of sporting merit, calls into question the redistribution of television revenues. This time, the Super League seems concrete and is no longer the argument periodically waved by the big clubs to obtain more concessions. « If it’s a bluff, it’s a bluff with incredibly high stakes, with an official website, with formal statements on their websites, » said
Monday April 19, 1:27 p.m.
We discover that the rebellious clubs are ready to go into battle: in a letter obtained by AFP, the Super League warns UEFA and Fifa that it has taken the courts to « ensure the establishment and smooth operation of the competition ».
Monday April 19, 2:42 p.m.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin appears at a press conference, dark suit and closed face, after an executive committee of the instance. The Slovenian lawyer does not mince his words: the Super League is « a shameful proposition » of a few « snakes » only « guided by greed », « a spit in the face of all football lovers ». On a more personal level, the betrayal is immensely painful for him: he is the godfather of one of the children of Andrea Agnelli, the boss of Juventus, one of the dissident clubs! The latter, after having assured him at the beginning of the weekend that the rumors of secession should not be believed, turned his jacket over, suddenly becoming unreachable by his former friend. Ceferin then promises a response and announces in passing the
Monday April 19, 5:30 p.m.
Faced with the miraculous revenues promised by the promoters of the Super League, in particular an initial payment of 3.5 billion euros to the founding clubs, the financial markets are rubbing their hands. The action of Juventus Turin closes sharply on Monday late afternoon (+ 17%) while that of Manchester United is progressing significantly in New York.
Tuesday April 20, 12:03 am
Florentino Pérez, all-powerful boss of Real Madrid and new president of the Super League, appears on the set of the Spanish talk show El Chiringuito. The business manager considers it « impossible » that rebellious clubs are excluded and defends his project. « The new Champions League is supposed to start in 2024 »; by then, with the pandemic, « all the clubs will be dead! » pleads Pérez.
Tuesday April 20, 10:38 a.m.
Gianni Infantino, FIFA president who often disagrees with Ceferin, provides notable support to UEFA: before the congress of the European body, the leader castigates the rebels who “will have to suffer the consequences” of their rupture. In the process, the 55 member federations unanimously adopt a resolution condemning the Super League, even if Ceferin assures the rebels that it is « still time to change their minds ».
Tuesday April 20, 5:42 p.m.
The legal battle is becoming clearer: in a summary decision, a Madrid commercial court bans UEFA and Fifa from any measure against the launch of the Super League, pending a decision on the merits of the case . This first victory in the courtroom seems to augur a long legal standoff between two apparently irreconcilable camps.
Tuesday April 20, 7:45 p.m.
Incredible turnaround: several British media, including the BBC, are starting to talk about the hesitations of certain rebellious clubs, or even their desire to withdraw. At the same time, hundreds of angry supporters from different English clubs gather on the outskirts of Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea, one of the rebels.
Tuesday April 20, 9:19 p.m.
Under pressure, Manchester City is the first to give in, announcing in a statement « to withdraw from the group responsible for developing the European Super League project ». A turnaround for which UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin immediately said he was « delighted ».
Tuesday April 20, 11:55 p.m.
In turn, several other English clubs follow in City’s footsteps, gradually emptying the Super League of its substance. Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United give up, ensuring that they have taken into account the rejection expressed by their supporters. « We made a mistake, and we apologize », summarizes Arsenal on Twitter.
Wednesday April 21, 9:29 a.m.
Agnelli, one of the figures of secession, admits to the facts: the president of Juventus believes that the project cannot exist without the six English clubs, AFP learns from his entourage, while the stock market title of Juve unscrews at the Milan Stock Exchange. Shortly after, Atlético Madrid and Inter Milan in turn formalized their withdrawal from the project, a new nail in the coffin of the Super League.