By Tony Attwood
We now have on the table the Premier League’s case against Manchester City. and bubbling below that, another little issue: Super League.
The media recently got very excited about the fact that a judge ruled that Uefa in claiming the right to run trans-national competitions is not against competition laws.
But what was missed in the English media, although picked up in Spain, is that the ruling does not give Uefa the legal right to prevent football clubs from forming any league that it likes – including of course a European Super League.
As the Independent newspaper said in its newsletter recently, “On Tuesday, right when deadline day was getting to its most intense, news broke from Spain that one of the country’s courts ruled that Fifa and Uefa have no grounds to prevent the sport’s top clubs from forming a European Super League.”
It didn’t make many headlines with so much else going on but the statement was released. And that is where Super League stands at the moment: the legality of it has not yet been fully determined. But the ground is shifting all the time, for the behaviour of Chelsea during this last transfer window, when apparently on its own it outspent the whole of Europe in terms of transfers, is suggesting to an increasing number of clubs that football in its current form is unviable.
And that was before Manchester City was accused of 100+ violations of Premier League rules. For those charges reminded football that Manchester City only got away with their activities before, because Uefa (for reasons that have never been adequately explained) were so incredibly slow (many now argue “deliberately slow”) in bringing their case against Manchester City’s spending last time around that the case was ruled “out of time.”
Put all this together, and it would appear from articles in the European media that there is a feeling in Europe that the current system is unviable. If one club can outspent the continent, what is the point of it all? If one club can behave in such a way that it has 100+ allegations against it, how can this be called a fair and viable competition?
A significant amount of this disquiet arises over the fact that the effective owner of PSG also owns BeIN sports and is chair of a whole raft of international football committees. The thought is arising, if the rest of the Premier League can bring down Manchester City (and of course we don’t know yet if they can) then maybe French football can bring down PSG. The as the Independent said, “Deadline day itself, and the amount of money the Premier League spent in contrast to everyone else, is convincing more and more European clubs of the need for change.”
And as they point out it wasn’t just Chelsea that caused a stir, for the article continues, “Much has after all been made of the stat that Chelsea became the first club to outspend all four other major leagues in one window. Southampton, however, quickly followed them.”
The incredibly long contracts and incredibly high wages that Chelsea have introduced are disturbing, but of course they are not the first disruptive trick that Chelsea have operated.
It was over ten years ago that Chelsea were banned from signing any more youth players – again an action of Uefa that was eventually overturned on appeal. After that came an enquiry by Fifa into transfer dealings in the youth market with the transfers of over 100 foreign players under the age of 18 being investigated.
Mediapart, the French website that covers such issues, said at the time that Fifa were looking to impose a ban of four windows on Chelsea, perhaps recognising that the maximum fine they can impose (500,000 Swiss francs) was trivial in the case of a club with the backing Chelsea has. Mediapart also said there were 14 players in the investigation who had been transferred illegally.
The point is that Chelsea and Manchester City have over the years worked within the existing regulations and pushed them beyond their limits, and the football authorities in Europe have been too weak to stand up to them, largely because PSG effectively runs Uefa. See for example, “PSG accused of creating fake accounts,” “How Uefa and PSG and have taken control and fooled all of football,” “La Liga complains to Uefa, alleging Manchester City and PSG breach FFP”, “Swiss Prosecutors demand prison for BeIN and PSG president.”
Which is why the rest of the Premier League have decided to take action against Manchester City rather than refer matters to Uefa. This way they also keep the CAS out of the affair.
Multiple newspapers are running stories with headlines such as “Man City ready to go to war with the Premier League” and that may well be true, but what will the other clubs do if City win? Quite probably leave the Premier League and form a new league without them. And if Man City lose? City will probably form a new league made up of all the clubs they own around the world – plus a few more they will buy en route. Plus Juventus, Real Madrid and Inter Milan. Welcome back, Super League.
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