20th April 2021
The proposal of a supposed European Super League is daft and dreadful.
Only the most partisan supporters of the clubs involved and those who will be making money out of the proposal are able to make a positive case for the idea.
Many supporters of the clubs involved, as well as the other football supporters, just see it as a cynical attempt to to exploit and develop cash revenues at the expense of the wider interests of the sport.
An idea being daft and dreadful does not make it also illegal.
The law is not magic and there is no wand for any politician to say ‘I prohibit you thus’.
In particular, what is called ‘competition law’ – which prevents abuse by monopolies and the forming of cartels – is not likely to be of any use in preventing the initiative.
Indeed, competition law may help more than hinder the establishment of a rival international international football league.
Only a handful of clubs are involved, and there is no inherent reason why UEFA should have a monopoly on European club competition.
The fact that it is an artificial pop-up international league, where many of the participating clubs have not even won a European club competition before, is neither here nor there.
Nor is the fact that many clubs (such as my own, Aston Villa) that have won such competitions are excluded relevant (and I hope my view would be the same even if Aston Villa had been part of this misconceived project).
It is a new league that will be in competition to the existing arrangements, and the starting point of the relevant law is that competition is a good thing – rather than monopolies.
The European Super League may well rob the clubs, the players and the supporters involved of something valuable – genuine European football – and replace it with an artificial contest with regular matches against Tottenham Hotspur.
But that does not create a legal remedy.
If anything, competition law may undermine the attempts of the status quo to quash the innovation and provide a defence to threatened retaliatory or punitive measures.
If the proposal is to be defeated – it should be by means of politics and commercial realities, not litigation.
Perhaps this exercise in misplaced exceptionalism and a false sense of the international importance of those supporting the measure will collapse under the strain of its contradictions and impartibility before it gets going.
But then again, that is also what said would happen with Brexit, and it did not.
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