— Sports

Winners and losers in Super League plan for European soccer

MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) – The plan for a Super League is shaping up as perhaps the most polarizing idea in European soccer in more than a generation. The project announced by 12 breakaway clubs early Monday would make winners and losers worldwide if it overcomes widespread resistance and kicks off as soon as August.

Here’s a look at some of the things at stake:

CLUB OWNERS: The few people driving the 20-team competition plan hope to see the value of team equity and shares soar. Share prices in Juventus and Manchester United rose more than 10% Monday.

Most owners are already billionaires – investors and hedge funds from the United States, an oligarch from Russia, construction and retail magnates from Spain and China, royalty from Abu Dhabi, and a tax-exiled currency trader from England.

The 12 rebel clubs already have the highest revenues in world soccer, earning hundreds of millions from playing in domestic leagues and selling sponsorships globally.

Most top-up income with around 100 million euros ($120 million) each season from UEFA in Champions League prize money.

European soccer

The founding clubs aim to at least triple their Champions League income from the Super League without the risk of failing to qualify. The new competition underwritten by financiers at JP Morgan should offset the risk of losing domestic income.coronavirus pandemic hit soccer revenues, some elite clubs ran up debts of hundreds of millions. Risk is not suitable for their current operations.

The owners’ status could also soar. Instead of having a seat at UEFA’s decision-making tables, they will run their show with equal shares in a new Super League Company.

TOP PLAYER SALARIES: More club income should mean player salary raises – inevitably, a cut for their agents.

The Super League shapes to create a two-tier salary structure in European soccer, separating the clubs and those left behind.

The trend was accelerated by megadeals such as those that brought Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017. These deals helped create a market for wages and transfers only a few clubs could trade in.

When a few clubs collect the best players, it is even more challenging for other teams to close the gap on and off the field.

FANS OUTSIDE EUROPE: Research by the rebel clubs shows there are potentially hundreds of millions of new followers in Asia and North America. Many follow more than one high-profile team, want to see them play each other more often, and maybe identify as supporters of individual star players instead of a club.

This is heresy to home-based fans who typically support the local team they grew up watching with family and friends. The Super League project is smitten with attracting fans – and their money – further afield.

NEW BROADCASTERS: A new competition would create a new market to sell games featuring the world’s best players.

It could interest Big Tech firms with ideas about distributing content – and not just live games in total – to new fans with different viewing habits.

Super League clubs will have ideas about packaging and monetizing digital content they will now have more control over.


UEFA: The Champions League organizer would lose status, and most clubs with the broadest worldwide appeal to fans, broadcasters, and sponsors.

The European soccer body sold around $14 billion in expected commercial revenue for the next three years of its club competitions through 2024. That was on the promise of the best clubs and players taking part.

Playing hardball with the 12 clubs, as UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin did Monday, opens the door to unpredictable legal battles. It could start with weighing whether to kick out five Super League clubs from the Champions League and Europa League semifinals that open next week.

OTHER LEAGUES, TEAMS, AND PLAYERS: The Super League damages ambitions on the field and financial prospects off it for thousands of players, clubs, and leagues across Europe.

Domestic games risk losing attention and appeal if the Super League cuts itself off – or is cut off by UEFA and other soccer bodies – from the game’s pyramid structure. Even if the Super League teams stay in domestic competitions, they would likely field weaker lineups.

Players could lose the chance to test themselves and improve against the best opponents.

FANS IN EUROPE: They are known to the Rebel 12 as “legacy fans,” which they seem to be taking for granted. These are home-based fans who typically care for tradition and resist change.

Some would lose domestic rivalries. All would face more expensive away trips involving a flight and hotel instead of by road or rail.

The backlash since Sunday against the Super League from fans, former players, and, in Britain, Prince William, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggests the clubs also have a big part of their reputations to lose.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE BROADCASTERS: Dozens of channels have bought and planned for three seasons of the highest-quality club competition in world soccer.

UEFA said Monday it would keep going ahead with the Champions League “with or without” the 12. That would leave broadcasters paying a top-tier price for games lacking the best players subscribers, and advertisers prefer to see.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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