THE DREAMS of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus lie shattered.
Their ambitions of creating a Super League of the richest clubs, a money spinner to bankrupt UEFA and hit the power of the Premier League, rendered null and void by the Luxembourg lawmakers.
Plans for the controversial European Super League have been shatteredReuters
There were restrained but triumphant celebrations across Europe, at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, the Prem’s shiny new offices near Paddington, for LaLiga in Madrid and the Bundesliga in Frankfurt.
But if there were any remaining doubts for the American owners of Liverpool and Manchester United about the wisdom of cashing in their investments now, they were surely ended for good by the “non-binding opinion” of the European Court of Justice’s Advocate General.
The northwest duo and the remaining members of the Big Six were forced to drop their plans to join the breakaway and even agreed to punitive financial and sporting repercussions for any future U-turn by the public backlash.
Yet it always seemed they did so with their fingers crossed firmly behind their backs, waiting for the chance to jump back on any future gravy train before it left the station.
The argument would have been simple: We didn’t want to do it and we did promise we would stay. But what else can we do?
Super League offered the prospect of a new financial universe even for the wealthy elite.
A £3.6billion elite cartel funded by US financial behemoth JP Morgan, worth up to £310m for each club PLUS a minimum of £130m each season.
If they had pulled it off, the value of the English clubs involved would have sky-rocketed, blitzing past the £5billion mark without even thinking of stopping.
That it would have impoverished those left behind was unimportant and irrelevant.
It is all over now.
Revenues will rise in the future, especially if the Prem giants can get control of streaming rights and if the international desire to watch the world’s best league continues to increase.
But not the exponential growth FSG and the Glazers had imagined and anticipated when they got into bed with the plotters as ringleaders of the scheme.
European courts have back UEFA during the European Super League clashReuters
Instead, the £3-4bn sums being bandied about as potential prices for the Anfield and Old Trafford clubs might be the top of the market. Even above what the market will be prepared to pay.
Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein, one of the five original club chiefs involved in the formation of the Premier League but who counselled Stan Kroenke against joining the breakaway, said: “The Super League was the owners not reading the tea leaves properly.
“They got the wrong message and that clearly was driven by owners thinking there was a Holy Grail out there.
“The whole concept was abhorrent. It wasn’t in the best interest of football generally.
“When it failed, that probably promoted the sale of Liverpool and Manchester United.”
UEFA chiefs, backed by the powerful European Club Association and the major leagues, were unsurprisingly cockahoop at a ruling which went far further than any of them had anticipated.
This is a major blow to the remaining European Super League rebelsGetty
The ECA, which represents nearly 250 clubs across the continent including nine from the Prem, trumpeted: “This is a clear rejection of the efforts of a few to undermine the foundations and historical heritage of European football for the many.
“The self-interested few sought to disrupt European club football and undermine the values that underpin it.”
Despite the devastating reverse, set to be confirmed by the formal judgement in March, the three remaining rebels, speaking through their lobbying vehicle, Madrid-based A22, attempted to find consolation.
A22 clung to the finding that UEFA should not block attempts to set up a rival competition but ignored the key position that the European governing body DOES have the right to sanction any that do.
Chief executive Bernd Reichart said: “We are pleased with the recognition of the right of third parties to organise pan-European club competitions.
Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus were still hoping to create the unpopular leagueGetty
“We believe the 15 judges who are entrusted with the responsibility to examine this case will go substantially further and provide the opportunity for clubs to manage their own destiny in Europe.”
Victories like that look like… defeats. Heavy ones. Ones that do not allow any comeback.
Of course, it could all change in March. Until that verdict comes in, anything is possible.
But even Real President Florentino Perez’ allies in the Spanish media depicted it as a humiliating reverse.
The coffin has been ordered and the last rites have been performed. Now all that awaits Super League is the final confirmation of its fate.
European football can breathe a sigh of relief. It may not be shared in Boston or Miami.