Sports

European Super League plans 64-team expansion after court ruling against Uefa

The European Court of Justice has ruled that Fifa and Uefa acted unlawfully in blocking the European Super League in a landmark case which could pave the way for the resurrection of the breakaway competition.

The EU’s most senior court confirmed that football’s governing bodies are powerless to impose sanctions on clubs that participate in alternative competitions, as was threatened when the ESL was first mooted in 2021.

Six Premier League clubs – Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur – were involved alongside other European powerhouses Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter and AC Milan and Juventus.

Super League bosses are now expected to announce new proposals on Thursday that will involve 64 teams and three tiers – but unlike the original system, the league would be based on sporting merit, with no permanent members, and annual promotion and relegation.

The original scheme was met with nationwide protests from fans across the UK, with all six English clubs eventually announcing their withdrawals. With a new football regulator set to be introduced, it is possible Premier League clubs could still be blocked from future participation in breakaway competitions – but it is understood the new Super League would still see clubs playing their regular domestic fixtures.

The verdict will therefore raise further questions about the future of the Champions League, with Super League bosses aiming to revive their project in time for 2025.

In response to the findings, European Super League bosses said that the “Uefa monopoly is over” and “football is free”, claiming fans would be able to view Super League matches for free and clubs would be able to guarantee revenues.

Uefa said in a statement: “This ruling does not signify an endorsement or validation of the so-called ‘super league’; it rather underscores a pre-existing shortfall within Uefa’s pre-authorisation framework, a technical aspect that has already been acknowledged and addressed in June 2022.

“Uefa is confident in the robustness of its new rules, and specifically that they comply with all relevant European laws and regulations.

“uefa remains resolute in its commitment to uphold the European football pyramid, ensuring that it continues to serve the broader interests of society. We will continue to shape the European sports model collectively with national associations, leagues, clubs, fans, players, coaches, EU institutions, governments and partners alike.

“We trust that the solidarity-based European football pyramid that the fans and all stakeholders have declared as their irreplaceable model will be safeguarded against the threat of breakaways by European and national laws.”

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