Uefa is considering imposing sanctions on the 12 clubs involved in the failed attempt to establish a breakaway European Super League. Its president, Aleksander Ceferin, has warned they will “suffer the consequences” of “their mistake”.
The Guardian understands that the appetite to punish the renegade clubs – including the Premier League’s “Big Six” – is growing at European football’s governing body despite Ceferin hinting otherwise on Wednesday. In an interview with 24UR in his homeland published on Thursday the Slovenian also took aim at two of the ESL’s key architects, the Juventus president Andrea Agnelli and his Real Madrid counterpart Florentino Pérez, and said he had been shocked by their betrayal.
“We have 235 out of 247 clubs on our side … well, we had them, and now we have 244,” Ceferin said, referring to the fact that Juventus, Madrid and Barcelona have not formally abandoned the Super League. “You are with us. Yesterday I received SMS support from practically all clubs in Europe. So now we expect everyone to realise their mistake and suffer the appropriate consequences. We’ll talk about that next week.”
Uefa is believed to be exploring what punishments could be imposed. Whether that could extend to potential bans from next season’s Champions League as some have demanded remains to be seen.
The Bayern Munich chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, has replaced Agnelli as representative of the European Club Association (ECA) on Uefa’s executive committee, and the Manchester United director David Gill is the only remaining committee member with links to an ESL club and he is unlikely to be asked to step down given he is also Uefa’s treasurer.
Ceferin, godfather to Agnelli’s daughter, reserved his harshest criticism for the Juventus chairman, whom he accused of “caring nothing about the sport we love”. He said he had “more respect” for the English clubs for admitting they had made an error.
“They know exactly that they made a mistake, they called me and I respect that,” he said. “You have to be big to admit a mistake and that’s why I have more respect for these clubs than for those who insist on something they themselves say doesn’t exist.”
The breakaway 12 could be hit by changes to the new Champions League format that would remove the proposal to award places based on historical performances.
Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gündogan says the new format is flawed and will add to player fatigue, calling it the lesser of two evils in comparison to the Super League.
“With all the Super League stuff going on, can we please also speak about the new Champions League format? More and more games, is no one thinking about us players? The new UCL format is just the lesser of the two evils in comparison to the Super League,” he said on Thursday via Twitter. “The UCL format right now works great and that is why it’s the most popular club competition in the world for us players and for the fans.”
On Thursday Barcelona’s president, Joan Laporta, continued to support a Super League. “It is absolutely necessary,” he said on Catalan public television. “The biggest clubs create the most financial resources and we must have our say in deciding how the earnings are shared.”
He appeared open to tweaking the most controversial part of the project locking in 15 clubs and leaving only five places open for other teams each season. “It has to be an attractive competition, based on merit won on the field,” Laporta said. “We defend our national leagues and an open dialogue with Uefa.”