Top football bosses have attacked an effort to revive the European Super Leagueas one of the breakaway contest’s leading advocates insisted he will continue to pursue a radical transformation of the world’s favorite sport.
Speaking at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit on Thursday, Andrea Agnelli, chief executive of Juventus, said: “European football is in dire straits and it is in need of deep and profound reforms.”
He denied the Super League was a failure despite the backlash that caused nine of the original 12 rebel clubs to abandon the competition within days of it being announced last April. Agnelli said “the unsustainability of the industry is still there”, pointing to the huge financial losses being faced by top clubs across the continent.
Agnelli added that Juventus, and two other rebel clubs, Spain’s Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, would continue with a European legal case that, in effect, would lead to the break-up of Uefa, European football’s governing body. The lawsuit is crucial to whether the Super League can attempt a comeback.
Uefa President Alexander Ceferin hit out at the possibility the project could be revived.
“First they launched their nonsense of an idea in the middle of a pandemic. Now we’re reading articles every day that they’re planning to launch another idea in the middle of war, ”he said. “They obviously live in a parallel world.”
The idea also drew the ire of Javier Tebas, chief executive of Spain’s top division La Liga, who launched a personal broadside against Agnelli and other breakaway executives, as the Juventus boss sat just meters away.
“They lie more than [Vladimir] Putin, ”he said. “They are constantly saying it does not affect the national league. All the national leagues must be stupid because we all say it does a lot of damage to the national leagues. ”
He called Agnelli, Barcelona’s president Joan Laporta and Madrid boss Florentino Pérez “Castaways” who “want to boss us around and give us the crumbs”.
Despite his opposition, Tebas also suggested that the Super League would be resurrected but said it would be without the involvement of the six English clubs that had originally signed up to the project: Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur .
Richard Masters, chief executive of the Premier League, English football’s top division, insisted its biggest teams would not join the initiative because of the fan backlash when the plans were first announced.
“The European Super League was over and done in 48 hours in this country,” Masters said. “I’ve never known football to be so united as during that period. The idea defeated itself. It was so poorly executed. “
But leading football figures in England said they believed the project may yet be revived. Gary Neville, the television pundit and former Manchester United player, said a “rehashed” version would return, while Tracey Crouch MP, a former sports minister, said “there is potential that the English Super League is still a live proposal”.
“The Super League will make a comeback,” Neville said. “The hierarchy will not go away; they want more money and they do not have an interest in the wider game beyond their own jobs. ”