KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: European federation UEFA has treated with disdain the latest Football Leaks reports that 16 elite clubs have discussed launching a breakaway super league in 2021.
UEFA has refrained from entering into anything similar to the lengthy angry reaction from world governing body FIFA concerning the source of articles in 14 European news outlets purporting to uncover the extent of behind-the-scenes shmoozing within the international game.
It made no comment on the super league issue and responded to questions concerning the financial fair play ‘escapes’ of Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City by saying only: “We cannot comment on specific cases due to confidentiality obligations which UEFA must respect.”
The super league issue is highly nuanced since there is no question about the right of Europe’s top clubs to keep an open mind on any and all proposals which might take them forward from financial and sporting viewpoints.
Clubs reportedly involved in super league discussions were Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus, Chelsea, Arsenal, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Liverpool and Milan plus invitees Atletico Madrid , Marseille, Internazionale, Roma and Borussia Dortmund.
Several have refused to comment while others have denied all involvement or even knowledge of such talks. Bayern are among the the latter. A club statement said: “FC Bayern has no knowledge of renewed plans for a so-called super league nor has FC Bayern participated in negotiations on this.”
The position of Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is a delicate one because at the time of the supposed discussions he was president of the European Club Association which is a key partner of UEFA in facilitating the smooth operation of the UEFA Champions League.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has not only always opposed the concept of a super league but scorned its potential and/or value by comparison with Europe’s mainstream event.
At a media round-table in Monaco in August, he said: “The Champions League is the best sport competition, not just football, in the world and it will stay that way, I am sure.
“The big clubs always want to play against the big clubs. The small clubs dream of qualifying to stay [in the competition]. I think, as much as I’ve said to the big clubs that the competition only between the big clubs won’t happen and it would be very boring. They understand that for the development of football, they have to share some money. “
Last month he reiterated his stance at a conference in Italy during an on-stage debate with Juventus president Andrea Agnelli who has succeeded Rummenigge as ECA president.
Ceferin said: “A European Super League would damage football worldwide. Watching Juve-Bayern Munich every week would be more boring than, say, Juve-Torino. For me it’s out of the question and as long as I’m here I’ll fight in every way to make sure it doesn’t happen.
“If we’re talking about a closed system then you can forget about football development and solidarity, and clubs will lose out in the long run.”