Over the past week, a cynical attempt by leading football clubs in Europe to form an exclusive championship was foiled by enraged fans and even governmental authorities. The so-called European Super League was severely opposed especially in the United Kingdom with fans, as well as players and coaches. In addition to the protests by fans in the European clubs’ home cities, likely sanctions from European and international football authorities have forced many club owners to quit the league. While establishment of the ESL was officially announced on April 18, by April 21, 10 out of the 12 founding clubs announced their plans to withdraw from the league.
The ESL was the brainchild of the owners of a handful of elite football clubs who wanted to share the revenue from the game exclusively between them. Unlike the annual UEFA Champions League, a prominent European club football competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) where 32 European clubs participate, the ESL was envisaged as an annual competition of 20 elite teams. 15 elite clubs including Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham, Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Juventus, etc., were designated as founding members of the ESL and were to be permanent league participants. As of April 23, except the Spanish clubs Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, all other major clubs signaled their withdrawal from the ESL.
The Communist Party of Britain (CPB) said that the ESL proposal is an attempt by the wealthy clubs to establish a perpetual monopoly and resolve their debt issues. In its statement, the CPB stated that “apart from the telling metaphor of a debt-ridden capitalism striving to link reward to existing wealth and privilege rather than merit, this is completely against the wishes of the game’s real sponsors, the fans: nobody asked if we wanted this because they knew the answer would be an emphatic ‘No’.”
The CPB has also called for immediate points reductions and the imposition of serious fines on all the clubs involved in the ESL.
The Momentum group in the UK initiated a petition demanding the British government to introduce new legislation to create a fan ownership model for English football clubs. In its petition, Momentum said that “a cartel of billionaires have announced they intend to form a European Super League made up of only the richest clubs. They say that their job is to maximize profits, not look after the sport we love. And they’re right. This attack on football as we know it is only happening because our clubs are controlled by an ultra-rich elite.”