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The latest on the Super League: The ECJ’s ruling, when it may start, press conferences and legal arguments

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The controversial European Super League (ESL) once again took center stage on Thursday, triggered by a landmark ruling from the European Union Court of Justice (ECJ). In a surprising turn of events, the ECJ sided with the breakaway competition, asserting that FIFA and UEFA had overstepped their boundaries by wielding their power to penalize Super League clubs and players.

Super League

The European Union Court of Justice ruled in favor of the Super League on Thursday morning, sparking debates over whether the competition could commence with immediate effect

The genesis of the Super League

The legal battle unfolded 32 months after the initial launch of the Super League, a venture that suffered a rapid setback as nine of its 12 founding members withdrew their support almost immediately.

The concept of the European Super League has been around for decades. For a long time, it has effectively been something between an aspiration and a threat. A late Sunday night in 2021 though, was the first time anyone had given it a physical form.

At the beginning,  there were 12 founding members. The main driving forces behind the project were Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool and Juventus who invited eight other clubs to join them. They others were: Barcelona and Atlético Madrid from Spain, Inter Milan and A.C. Milan from Italy, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Currently, only Real Madrid and Barcelona are the standing supporters of the project.

What did the court decide on Thursday?

The ECJ, in its ruling, deemed rules requiring prior approval for “interclub football projects” as “unlawful” and criticized the exclusive control of negotiating commercial rights, labeling it as a restriction of trade.

In a bold move, the ECJ also criticized FIFA and UEFA for rules concerning the exploitation of media rights, declaring them “harmful” to clubs, media companies, and fans alike. This condemnation opened the door for a swift response from the ESL, resulting in the release of a new proposal within hours.

Stakeholders react to ruling

A22, the company tasked with overseeing the creation of the Super League, led by CEO Bernd Reichart, swiftly announced changes in response to the court ruling. In a bid to garner support, A22 declared that Super League games would be broadcast for free, and clubs would receive solidarity payments.

The aftermath of the ECJ ruling saw key figures on both sides of the debate voicing their opinions. As the dust settles, the atmosphere appears relatively calm, with the ESL creators strategizing the optimal approach to relaunch the competition. However, the realignment of forces is evident, with only Real Madrid and Barcelona currently giving the green light to join the revived league.

Legal arguments

According to the BBC, if A22 comes forward with a plan and UEFA says no, it is impossible to imagine they won’t go straight back to the courts.

Italian and French Governments seem to be mobilising to create legislation to stop any of their clubs joining the Super League. In England, a football regulator is part of the desire to clip the wings of the biggest clubs, backed up by legal powers if anyone starts to be seduced by the project.

It will probably be years before the full extent of ECJ’s ruling becomes established.

The aforementioned source also advices that no-one should be surprised if the powerful European Club Association headed by Nasser Al-Khelaifi, and its numerous lawyers turn out to be the big winners.

Napoli open to joining project

Italian side Napoli has also expressed interest in engaging in discussions about the future of a breakaway competition.

When will the competition start?

Despite these developments, the prospect of the Super League disrupting the ongoing or upcoming seasons seems unlikely. Forecasts indicate that, if the Super League does proceed, it will kick off in approximately 18 months.

The resurfacing of the European Super League, fueled by the ECJ ruling, has reignited debates and discussions within the football community. As stakeholders on both sides assess the implications, the fate of the Super League hangs in the balance, with the next 18 months crucial in determining whether this controversial venture will become a reality.

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