A22's new European Super League plan: Full details, Celtic and Rangers potential, Man Utd response, critics

The latest plans for a new Euro league have been announced – we talk you through it

Following on from Thursday morning’s court ruling which appeared to open the door to a European Super League being revived, the latest draft for new competition has been unveiled.

The 15 judges comprising the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) had been asked to decide whether UEFA and FIFA’s moves to block the formation of the European Super League in 2021, and then sanction those clubs involved, breached EU competition law. The court found those rules to be contrary to EU law, and that UEFA and FIFA had abused a dominant position in the market by not having suitable conditions and criteria which could give rival promoters access to the market.

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Backers of the European Super League declared victory after a court found rules allowing UEFA the right to grant prior approval to new competitions were contrary to EU law and in the aftermath, A22 – the company formed to assist in the creation of a European Super League – said the binding ECJ ruling means “football is free”. Since the ECJ announcement A22 has already presented proposals for new “open and meritocratic” men’s and women’s competitions at European level that would clearly directly rival existing UEFA tournaments if ultimately approved.

Manchester United are one of the clubs to pledge their allegiance to UEFA and the EPL.Manchester United are one of the clubs to pledge their allegiance to UEFA and the EPL.
Manchester United are one of the clubs to pledge their allegiance to UEFA and the EPL.

What does the new competition look like?

A22 has proposed a new 64-team men’s competition, featuring 16 teams in the Star League, 16 in the Gold League and a 32-team Blue League. The leagues will feature promotion and relegation, with 20 teams qualifying via domestic performance each season into the Blue League, though A22 said more work and dialogue was needed to determine precisely how those 20 teams would qualify. The women’s competition it proposes features 32 teams split into a Star and Gold League of 16 teams each. In both men’s and women’s competitions, the top eight teams in each league would play a knockout tournament. While A22 insists what it proposes is a midweek European competition which would rely on thriving domestic leagues, anything adversely affecting interest in the Premier League’s race for European places could have a commercial impact. The league also relies strongly on competitive balance. A22 says fans will be able to watch live matches for free on a streaming platform called Unify, to be paid for through advertising. The league would be a clear rival to UEFA’s three current tournaments: The Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League.

Which Scottish teams would be involved?

As the plans are still very embryonic, no names have been attributed to a breakaway league. However, Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack was quick to comment on the latest developments. Writing on social media, Cormack hinted that both Celtic and Rangers would be two of the 64 teams included, although Celtic have since committed to UEFA. “This ruling will most likely change European football forever,” Cormack said. “This will be the Trojan horse towards a European Super League and ultimately cross border leagues, because when the biggest clubs leave their national leagues the commercial value for the remaining teams will plunge. We are working with like-minded clubs across Europe to make sure we do our utmost to deliver European club competition with similarly competitive clubs, the absence of which will lead to double the current gap in finances versus Celtic and Rangers, who will be included in those 60 ranked teams.”

Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack believes Rangers and Celtic would be involved in the latest 64-team proposals.Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack believes Rangers and Celtic would be involved in the latest 64-team proposals.
Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack believes Rangers and Celtic would be involved in the latest 64-team proposals.

Are all the big European clubs in favour of this?

No. Though the court judgement has been seized on as success for Super League backers, A22 or any other competition organiser would need to get clubs onside as well as fans. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who was one of the key architects of the 2021 project, said the ruling meant clubs were now “masters of their own destiny”. The ruling does appear at the very least to give clubs a stronger hand in the future development and governance of competitions, but it remains to be seen whether it leads to reform rather than revolution. A22 said the binding ECJ ruling means “football is free”. Manchester United have pledged their commitment to UEFA competitions and the Premier League. United – who were one of the 12 clubs who founded the controversial Super League in 2021 before withdrawing amid fan protests – say they are committed to the existing competitions. “Our position has not changed,” the club said in a statement. “We remain fully committed to participation in UEFA competitions, and to positive co-operation with UEFA, the Premier League, and fellow clubs through the ECA on the continued development of the European game.” Bayern Munich, who refused to join the Super League back in 2021, and Atletico Madrid – one of the original founding clubs – also gave their support to UEFA on Thursday.

Does all this mean a Super League will happen?

No, it simply says UEFA’s rules governing access to the market were found to be contrary to EU law. A court judgement does not mean a Super League is inevitable – for a start it requires clubs to be willing. Premier League teams are looking forward to sharing in a £6.7billion bonanza in their next domestic television deal, and the new independent regulator is set to impose licensing conditions precluding clubs from joining certain competitions. And aside from clubs, the first iteration of Super League in 2021 was deeply unpopular with English fans. A22 faces a huge PR battle to convince supporters of the merits of any new competition it proposes. Kevin Miles, the chief executive of the Football Supporters’ Association, has already said the Super League remains a “walking dead monstrosity”.

Further reaction

The European Club Association, which jointly runs commercial operations with UEFA for the existing club competitions, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in September which lasts until July 2030. The MoU pledges that ECA members will not join any competition not organised by UEFA. The ECA’s statement on Thursday said: “The world of football moved on from the Super League years ago and progressive reforms will continue. Most importantly, football is a social contract not a legal contract.” The Football Supporters Association says “there is no place for an ill-conceived breakaway super league” and its chief executive Kevin Miles said: “As our friends at Football Supporters Europe point out – there is no place for an ill-conceived breakaway super league. Supporters, players and clubs have already made clear they don’t want a stitched-up competition – we all want to see the trigger pulled on the walking dead monstrosity that is the European Zombie League. While the corpse might continue to twitch in the European courts, no English side will be joining. The incoming independent regulator will block any club from competing in domestic competition if they join a breakaway super league. Success must be earned on the pitch, not stitched-up in boardrooms”