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European Super League back in three years with different format, new chief executive tells FT

<i>Rob Pinney/Getty Images</i><br/>The European Super League
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Rob Pinney/Getty Images
The European Super League

By Ben Church, CNN

The European Super League (ESL), which folded just 48 hours after its launch in 2021, is planning to make a comeback in three years, its new chief executive told Wednesday’s Financial Times.

German television executive Bernd Reichart said that new formats were being explored and that he hoped to have “active and extended dialogue” across soccer in order to find a new solution.

“We want to reach out to stakeholders in the European football community and broaden this vision. Even fans will have a lot of sympathy for the idea,” the former chief executive of RTL Deutschland told the FT.

“It is a blank slate. Format will never be an obstacle.”

In April last year, 12 of Europe’s biggest and most successful clubs announced their intention to breakaway from the current UEFA competition format and create their very own Super League.

The proposal, which essentially created a closed shop for the most financially powerful clubs, triggered fury from fans who vehemently criticized the plans.

Many claimed it was a power grab, intended to guarantee the clubs status and revenue, which some of them weren’t currently earning from their performances on the pitch.

The response forced Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid to pull out, but Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have remained active members.

A22 Sports Management, the organization now representing the three remaining clubs, believes a relaunch for the 2024-25 season is a “reasonable” expectation.

“European club football is facing existential problems,” Reichart said in a video posted on A22’s website.

“European football is losing its undisputed leadership position in global sports. It’s not living up to its potential by not offering the best matches week after week.

“The current financial model in football is broken and unsustainable. Financial controls are inadequate and insufficiently enforced leading to competitive imbalances and financial stress.

“Clubs should be sovereign and master of their own destiny since they bear all risks and all investments.

“Today they are not allowed to freely organize themselves at European level, while almost every domestic league is run independently by clubs, governance of European competition resides only with UEFA … why?”

‘Offering solutions for all clubs’

Real Madrid President Florentino Perez, one of the main architects for the proposed ESL, recently said European football was “sick” and that changes are needed to stop younger fans drifting away from the sport.

He also pointed to how infrequently top teams in football face each other and said midweek European competition should offer fans matches between “the strongest teams and with the best players in the world” throughout the year.

In a statement posted by A22, Barcelona’s president Joan Laporta said his club was committed to creating open competition within the new structure.

“Please forget about the Super League format and whether it is a rich, elitist, open or closed competition,” said Laporta.

“If Barça is there, it will be because it is an open competition, with the best criteria of professionalism at all levels, based on meritocracy and with total respect for the state leagues.

“I assure you that you will have news soon, because the appropriate channels of dialogue will be established, working with the entire football family, without pressure and for the benefit of all. Bearing in mind the principle of solidarity, meritocracy, and I insist, offering solutions for all clubs,” added Laporta.

Meanwhile, Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli said “the overall goal is to put fans and footballers, the souls of the most beautiful sport in the world, back at the center of this industry.”

Previously UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has said the “shameless” plans for a new Super League were akin to taking “football hostage.”

UEFA did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment regarding Reichart’s comments.

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