The Super League Project: Current Situation

18 April 2024 - Sven Wassmer

As is generally known, on 18 April 2021, the European Super League was officially announced. The project is the collaborative work of several European clubs to organise a football league as an alternative model to rival UEFA competitions, such as the Champions League or the Europa League.

Sven Wassmer, PhD Abogado & Rechtsanwalt +34 91 319 96 86

The Super League was founded by twelve clubs, six from England, three from Italy and three from Spain, and is organised in a company with registered offices in Spain.

Since its announcement, the project has seen three quite eventful years, both from a legal point of view and regarding the composition and organisation of the Super League itself.

From a legal point of view, there has been mostly good news for the Super League: from the precautionary measures imposed by the competent commercial court in Spain, prohibiting UEFA from sanctioning the clubs promoting the Super League, to the ruling of the CJEU of 21 December 2023. The latter found, albeit with nuances, that the FIFA and UEFA rules, reserving the right to prior authorisation of third-party competitions such as the Super League, violate European Union law, as they are contrary to competition law and the freedom to provide services. The lawsuit brought by the project’s stakeholders against UEFA and others before the Commercial Court No. 17 of Madrid was heard on 14 March 2024 and is now awaiting judgment.

However, outside the courts, the project’s development has not been as successful. Shortly after the announcement of the Super League in April 2021, nine of the twelve founding clubs, among them, all of the English clubs and Atlético Madrid, have announced their decision not to participate in the Super League, due to massive protests of their fans. Hence, there was just Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Juventus Turin left – and in summer 2023 Juventus Turin announced that it intended to withdraw as well. Pushing the Super League through, against the opinions of the fans, might be fighting an uphill – or even lost – battle. One does not have to look far for examples: in the German Bundesliga, fans managed to stop an investment project with constant protests during the 2023/24 season. For this reason, it seems unlikely that the project will come to fruition, despite the efforts of the project’s stakeholders to make changes to the project for the Super League to be more open and accessible to all clubs, and despite a potential million-dollar penalty clause in case of subsequent withdrawal from the Super League by the founding clubs.

Furthermore, there is an additional hurdle: the Danish league, “3F Superliga”, could prevent the European league from using “Superliga”, “Super League”, or a similar name as brand name.