European Super League: ‘Big Six’ clubs to pay £22m settlement to Premier League over failed breakaway plot
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd and Spurs will pay a combined sum of £22m to the Premier League; ‘Big Six’ reach settlement over plan to join failed Super League in April; clubs will face heavy fines and points deductions if they sign up to similar plans in future.
The six English clubs which secretly agreed to play in a European Super League (ESL) will pay a combined £22m to draw a line under their ensuing row with the Premier League.
The figure was announced in a joint statement by the Premier League and the Football Association on Wednesday afternoon.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham have also agreed to an additional £25m fine and a potential 30-point deduction for any similar transgression in the future.
“The six clubs involved in proposals to form a European Super League have today acknowledged once again that their actions were a mistake, and have reconfirmed their commitment to the Premier League and the future of the English game,” the statement read.
“They have wholeheartedly apologised to their fans, fellow clubs, the Premier League and The FA.
“As a gesture of goodwill, the clubs have collectively agreed to make a contribution of £22m, which will go towards the good of the game, including new investment in support for fans, grassroots football and community programmes.
“Furthermore, the clubs have agreed to support rule changes so that any similar actions in the future would lead to a 30-point deduction.
“Each of the six clubs, in that event, would also be subject to an additional £25m fine.
“The Premier League and The FA have worked closely together throughout this process and this agreement brings both investigations into the matter to a conclusion.”
The Premier League-imposed fines are comparable to those imposed by UEFA, which announced a package of “reintegration measures” for the nine clubs who agreed to pull out of the ESL during a torrid 48-hour period at the end of April.
Including AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid, the ‘Big Six’ agreed to pay a collective €15m (£12.9m) to be invested in children’s, youth and grassroots football, with five per cent of their revenues from UEFA club competitions being withheld for one season.
They also agreed to far larger future fines – totalling €150m (£129m) – if they breached commitments in UEFA’s Club Commitments Declaration, or signed up to any similar breakaway format.
Julian Knight, the Conservative MP who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, said: “This shows what a calamitous PR exercise this was. The supposed masters of the football universe have been shown to be nothing more than rank amateurs.
“Out of this omnishambles I would like to think that we will see a fairer game with more money flowing down the football pyramid, but I won’t be holding my breath.”
UEFA also announced on Wednesday that its Appeals Body has decided to temporarily suspend the proceedings opened against Super League rebels Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus until further notice.
“UEFA understands why the disciplinary proceedings needed to be suspended for the time being, but remains confident in and will continue to defend its position in all the relevant jurisdictions,” a UEFA statement read on Wednesday.
“UEFA will take all necessary steps in strict accordance with national and EU law in order for the UEFA Appeals Body to be in a position to resume the disciplinary proceedings as soon as possible.”
Unlike the UEFA fines, however, the Premier League penalties will be a straight cash sum rather than a percentage of next season’s broadcast income – an option that was also discussed in recent weeks.
The eventual settlement is substantially smaller than an initial proposal made by the Premier League last month, which comprised a £15m fine per club and a substantial – albeit suspended – points deduction.
However, Premier League directors are said to have decided that drawing a line under the European Super League project was a priority ahead of the league’s annual conference – attended by all 20 clubs – beginning on Thursday.
It was unclear on Wednesday whether all six rebel clubs would pay equal sums. They rapidly abandoned the ESL project amid a huge backlash from rivals, fans and politicians.
Only Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid have yet to formally withdraw from the ESL – raising the prospect of them being banned from next season’s Champions League.
The Premier League announced last month that it had reached agreement with broadcast partners, including Sky, to renew its existing £4.7bn television rights deal for a further three years.
In an attempt to prevent future breakaway bids, the Premier League has announced the creation of an ‘Owners’ Charter’, which it said had the Football Association’s backing.
It added recently that the six clubs’ participation in the ESL “had challenged the foundations and resolve of English football”.
The government is likely to welcome the move to punish the six, although it is unclear whether the financial penalties imposed on them will simply be redistributed among the other 14 top-flight clubs.
Confirmation of the ESL’s existence, which came six months after key details of the project, sparked unprecedented protests against the owners of many of the participating English clubs.
Arsenal has since received an unsolicited takeover bid from the Spotify billionaire Daniel Ek, while Manchester United’s largest shareholders, the Glazer family, said they would allow fans to buy shares in the club.
Executives from the six clubs have been removed from several Premier League sub-committees – a move that could be reversed following the agreement of a financial settlement.
A fan-led review of football governance has been commissioned by the government under the leadership of Tracey Crouch, the former sports minister.
Its panellists will include the chief executives of Everton and the Football Supporters’ Association.