Freshman Diego Alonso is one of many fans of Liverpool Football Club, one of the teams forming the European Super League. (Photo by Justin Hsieh)


The downfall of the European Super League

The European Super League collapsed only a few days after its official announcement.
<a href="" target="_self">Tyler Sonderholzer</a>

Tyler Sonderholzer

May 14, 2021

The European Super League was a proposed soccer competition with twenty European clubs. It consisted of 15 founding clubs, who are permanent clubs in the competition and five other European clubs that will qualify for the competition based on their performance in their respective domestic league.

The fifteen founding clubs consisted of six English clubs, Arsenal Football Club, Chelsea Football Club, Liverpool Football Club, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur; three Italian teams, Internazionale (Inter) Milan, Associazione Calcio (AC) Milan and Juventus Football Club; and three Spanish teams, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Atlético Madrid.

The league was announced on April 18 with Florentino Pérez, the first chairman of the league and Real Madrid President, declaring: “We will help football at every level and take it to its rightful place in the world.”

However, the league was met with heavy criticism from fans, players, government officials and league presidents.

The first domino fell on April 20 when it was announced that Chelsea FC had intentions of withdrawing from the league and the rest of the English clubs followed suit after the Football Association, the English governing soccer body, announced they would ban clubs from the Premier League and all domestic competitions.

The league collapsed when Atlético Madrid, AC Milan and Inter Milan with the Juventus chairman claimed the project could not continue.

The main reason why the ESL failed was because of the backlash it received. For example, a YouGov poll found that 75% of British fans disapproved of the league.

Sky Sports commentator Gary Neville criticized the league by calling it “pure greed.” Fans also staged protests, such as blocking the Chelsea team bus from entering the stadium complex.

Those in charge of the league had failed on one big thing: the support of the fans.

Another reason why the league collapsed was when Germany’s Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund and France’s Paris Saint-Germain, who were rumored to be the other three founding clubs, ruled themselves out of the league. They are some of Europe’s biggest clubs and without their involvement, it left out the German and French TV markets and ticket sales in both countries, which were a big source of potential revenue.

German clubs ruled it out because they follow a 50+1 rule, where fans control a majority of the team’s shares and private investors cannot take control of the club.

The teams and players involved faced bans from the International Federation of Association Football, the Union of European Football Associations and their own domestic leagues, which could have pressured them into withdrawing from the competition.

While the ESL has good intentions and could have certainly been a way to gain more revenue as Perez claims, it wasn’t the best way to reform European competitions and ultimately failed.