'On standby': Football 'villain' issues Super League warning

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
Seen here, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and fans protesting the Super League.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez says the ESL is 'on standby' despite the fierce backlash to the breakaway competition. Pic: Getty

One of the key masterminds behind the European Super League (ESL) insists the controversial breakaway league is not dead and that all 12 clubs "have not left yet".

The announcement of the ESL this week left football in a state of chaos, with all but three of the founding 12 clubs withdrawing from the contentious proposal.

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On Thursday only Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus had yet to officially concede defeat.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea withdrew on Tuesday, followed by Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan 24 hours later.

Juve admitted the project could not proceed but are yet to officially pull out of the controversial breakaway that's been labelled a "disgrace" by fans all around the world.

Despite the fierce global backlash to the ESL, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez - one of the driving forces behind the competition - insists that while it looks dead in the water, the ESL was merely "on standby" for now.

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Perez accused Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin and various countries' footballing authorities of "aggression" and "threats" towards the ESL and said the clubs involved had signed binding contracts to participate in it.

"You cannot get out of the contract like this - they are binding contracts," Perez said.

The Real Madrid president claims the ESL was designed to "save football" and that the revamped 36-team Champions League, starting in 2024, didn't take reforms far enough.

"The Champions League format is old and only interesting from the quarter-finals onwards," said Perez.

"This format clearly doesn't work, so we thought that we could have a format where the most important teams in Europe play against each other from the very beginning of the season.

"We worked out the numbers and felt we could make much more money, more money for all the other teams too."

Pictured here, football fans in England protest the European Super League.
Fans in England turned out in droves to protest the European Super League. Pic: Getty

Real, Barca cling to ESL

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has also described the Super League as a "necessity" and admits it would have been a "historical error" not to join, with the club deciding to remain part of the project for now.

In an unapologetic statement, Barca said it would carry out an "in-depth analysis" of the breakaway competition before putting the final decision to a vote among the club's members.

The Barca boss suggested the ESL would not be a closed-off competition, which was one of the many controversial aspects of the proposal.

"It must be an attractive competition based on sporting merits," he said.

"We also will defend national leagues and we're open to having an open dialogue with Uefa.

"We always want to improve football and have the necessary revenues to ensure football remains a spectacle. If the big clubs don't continue to have large revenues then football will suffer."

UEFA's president said although he wanted to "rebuild the unity" with those clubs involved, he did not rule out penalties as the organisation meets on Friday to discuss the fiasco.

"I can't go into details, we are discussing it with our legal department," he said ahead of Friday's meeting.

UEFA member, Javier Tebas, the president of the Spain's La Liga, urged restraint.

"Everyone wants to cut everyone's head off," he said. "We have procedures. We don't need to rush into things."

Three of the rebel clubs are involved in the Champions League semi-finals next week.

Premier League leaders Manchester City are due to play Paris Saint-Germain, conspicuous by their absence from the Super League plans, in an April 28 tie that UEFA's president expects to go ahead as scheduled.

Record 13-time winners Real Madrid face Chelsea in the other last-four clash.

"There is relatively little chance that next week's matches will not be played," Ceferin confirmed.

with agencies

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