THE future of European club football will be on the line at a landmark court ruling on Thursday – which could signal the end of the Champions League.
Uefa is fighting attempts by Super League rebels to have the governing body condemned for running an “illegal monopoly” by banning rival competitions.
AFPThe future of European football is on the line[/caption]
Under Uefa rules, clubs do not have the right to set up their own competition unless it has been approved by Nyon chiefs.
Those rules were challenged by the remaining Super League rebels – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus – at the “Mercantile Court” in the Spanish capital just hours after the breakaway scheme fell apart in early 2021.
Now the European Court of Justice is poised to deliver its initial findings – which will signal whether Uefa remains in control of club football or must let the Super League try to establish itself.
While there will not be a final decision until March, the Court will deliver a “non-binding opinion” suggesting the likely outcome from the 15 Judges sitting on the case.
Uefa, backed by the European Club Association and major leagues including the Prem, hopes that the Court will effectively back what it calls the “European Sports Model” and the current system.
But the rebels, acting through Madrid-based lobbying group A22, have pushed for the complete scrapping of the current rules to allow a rival breakaway competition.
Both sides are expected to claim victory after the ruling, although it is more likely that the Court will rule that a breakaway is NOT illegal but that Uefa’s overall system must be defended.
A22 is understood to be funded by the three clubs and their financial backers, although it has so far refused to confirm any information.
It points to rugby union’s Six Nations Championship and cycling’s Tour de France as two prime examples of private sector companies organising major European sports events to justify the right of Super League to exist.
A22 chief executive, Bernd Reichart, said: “Things need to change. The Uefa monopoly is not okay.
“EU law prohibits someone who controls a market from using that control to keep others out.
“That is exactly what Uefa does – they are the sole organiser of European club football competitions and have for 70 years
“But they have given themselves the right to approve or reject any alternative. That is an obvious conflict of interests.
“So what is at stake is Uefa’s monopoly and the future of European club football.”