The fall-out from the European Super League debacle has been huge – but it could get even bigger and more costly.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez was at the very heart of the breakaway and has insisted the contracts signed by the 12 clubs involved are legally binding.
That has been viewed almost as an empty threat here but it is understood that is far from the case – and, while there is no set buy-out price, it could end up getting very, very messy.
There is a genuine threat of England’s Big Six – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – being sued for damages and the huge losses on the hundreds of millions the ESL stood to make.
There is also an ongoing court case in Madrid where, on the back of the ESL, a legal case has been brought to challenge UEFA and FIFA on their monopoly on football and clubs if they want to break away. That also has huge ramifications.
Clearly, fans have won the day in England, but opinions are divided in Spain and in Italy many still remain in favour of the ESL and #CeferinOut has been trending in protest at the UEFA president. After all, Inter Milan are facing financial armageddon and it is no wonder they wanted the ESL.
The plot is fascinating and it is understood Perez’s meeting with Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli in January was the day everything changed. That is when the ESL went into overdrive. Until that point, every club believed a breakaway threat was going to be used purely as leverage against UEFA.
The clubs knew there were rumblings happening in the background for months, but suddenly it got serious after January and it was all done at owner level. Perez drove it. Joel Glazer and John Henry got heavily involved and were the drivers from an English perspective. Others joined later.
Executives, CEOs and chairmen at clubs, those on the ground, were actually told the fine details as late as seven to ten days before the announcement which had originally been planned the previous week.
The ESL estimated ten times the current solidarity payments would go to grassroots and lower levels of the game while women’s football was definitely not an afterthought as £100m would have gone into the game.
The fall-out will carry on but there are concerns among the Big Six that the new Champions League set-up and carrying on the existing path will only escalate the financial problems facing the game.
UEFA is expected to completely revolutionise the current Financial Fair Play rules and that will give clubs more – or complete – freedom to spend and some fear that could make the divisions between the haves and the have nots even bigger.