'Fans can be convinced to back breakaway league'

3 months ago 70
We won't stop ESL, but football is not for sale

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin said "football is not for sale" after a revamped European Super League was proposed.

In 2021, 12 teams signed up to the ESL - a breakaway European tournament to rival current Uefa competitions.

On Thursday, the European Court of Justice ruled that banning clubs from joining the league was unlawful and the revamped ESL was outlined hours later.

"I hope they know what they are doing but I am not so sure," Ceferin said.

He added: "We will not try to stop them. They can create whatever they want."

The new proposal - put forward by A22, the organisation which backed the original ESL - is for a league system which would include 64 men's clubs and 32 women's clubs.

Domestic leagues across Europe were quick to condemn the project, including the Premier League, which said in a statement it will "continue to reject any such concept" as the ESL.

"Supporters are of vital importance to the game and they have time and again made clear their opposition to a 'breakaway' competition that severs the link between domestic and European football," the statement added.

Manchester United said they remain "fully committed" to Uefa competitions while Bayern Munich said "the door for the Super League remains closed".

United were one of the founding clubs of the original ESL but backed out following widespread condemnation of the plans.

Ceferin said Uefa sees the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling as a "chance to improve some regulations" after the governing body came under fire for changes made to the Champions League format, set to come into effect from the 2024-25 season.

However, he also felt the ECJ decision was based on "old facts". Uefa says it has made improvements in its rules since the ESL was first proposed which "comply with all relevant European laws and regulations".

Nasser Al-Khelaifi, chairman of the European Clubs Association (ECA), said: "They see it as a victory but it isn't that at all."

He added that Uefa is "working on security, medical and reform of competitions" and that clubs still recognise Uefa competitions as the best in the world.

"We don't need to threaten or banish anyone. Do your own competition, it is fine. But the best club competition in the world is the Champions League," he said.

"The brand has existed for years and years. The music in itself is a brand."

Aleksander CeferinCeferin criticised plans for a revamped European Super League in a news conference just hours after they were announced

'I hope they start their fantastic competition...with two clubs'

The ESL saga began in April 2021 when news broke that 12 teams - including English teams Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham - had signed up to the breakaway competition.

There was widespread fury and condemnation from fans, European domestic leagues and even government, leading to the collapse of the plans within 72 hours.

Out of the 12 clubs involved only Barcelona and Real Madrid maintained their interest in the creation of a new European competition.

Emboldened by criticism of the revamped ESL plans from multiple clubs as well as the German, French and English leagues, Ceferin mocked that only two clubs would take part in a new competition.

"I hope they start their fantastic competition as soon as possible, with two clubs," he said.

"I watched the so-called presentation of A22. It's hard to decide if you should be shocked or amused by the show. It's even more closed than 2021 and that was rejected by everyone."

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