ESL collapses as dozy dozen retire to lick their wounds

That didn’t take long did it? Plans for the European Super League are in ashes as the six English clubs involved – Arsenal, Manchester City, Man United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool – scramble for the exit as the football (and, indeed, non-football) world rages against them.

The clincher may have been UEFA’s threat to kick them out of this season’s existing competitions.

The rest of the dozy dozen – Spain’s Barcelona, Real Madrid, Athletico Madrid and Italy’s AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus – now have nowhere to go unless they want to arrange a kickabout among themselves.

How on earth such supposedly sophisticated and streetwise operators could have misread the consequences of their actions so badly will be the subject of endless articles, books and even Phd theses over the years. Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, a former JP Morgan banker and thought to be the brains (if that’s the right word) behind the scheme on behalf of Man United’s owners the Glazer family, is to leave by the end of the year. In one piece, we hope.

So what happens now? We speculated yesterday that the whole thing could be a gigantic bluff to help the dozen get a bigger slice of the existing cake. But it doesn’t seem as though they were that intelligent. They’ll still have a go though, leopards and spots.

And what will JP Morgan do? The giant US bank was to bankroll the league with $4bn of debt equity, repayable over 23 years from broadcast money. Jamie Dimon and his Wall Street cohorts didn’t get where they are by just rolling over and saying: “never mind chaps.” At the very least there’ll be compensation to pay. Maybe JPM has a plan B.

One thing’s for sure, those lawyers with a high boredom threshold will be in the money for months.

For now though it’s a resounding defeat for greedy sport owners at the hands of fans, the football authorities, politicians who jumped on the bandwagon and football figures like Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and player James Milner who had the guts to come out against the scheme (and their employer) before it was dead in the water. Outspoken pundit Gary Neville, a Marmite figure to many, got the ball rolling with his ringing condemnation despite (presumably) his closeness to former club Man United.

Result, you might say.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.