ESL clubs to pay £22m over failed project

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June 10, 2021
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    Chelsea fans protest against the European Super LeagueThe ESL proposals sparked a number of fan protests outside the clubs' stadiums

    The six Premier League clubs involved in the European Super League (ESL) have agreed to make a combined "goodwill" payment of £22m.

    Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham wanted to form a breakaway league.

    Should they attempt a similar project again, the clubs will be fined £25m each and have 30 points deducted.

    Meanwhile, Uefa has temporarily paused disciplinary proceedings against Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

    They are the only three clubs from the 12 that signed up that are yet to accept any punishment or renounce the ESL.

    European football's governing body had opened disciplinary proceedings against them in May.

    'They have wholeheartedly apologised'

    In a joint statement, the Football Association and Premier League said the English clubs had "collectively agreed" to make a payment of £22m as "a gesture of goodwill".

    The money "will go towards the good of the game", which includes "new investment in support for fans" and will help fund grassroots and community projects.

    "The six clubs involved in proposals to form a European Super League have 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 two bodies said in a statement.

    "They have wholeheartedly apologised to their fans, fellow clubs, the Premier League and the FA.

    "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."

    BBC Sport understands Manchester United's owners the Glazer family, Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group, Arsenal's majority shareholders Kroenke Sports Enterprises and Tottenham's owners will pay the fine rather than their clubs.

    Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville, who has been a vocal critic of football's governance and the ESL, tweeted the punishment was "an absolute embarrassment".

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    Nine of the ESL clubs – the six Premier League sides, plus AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid – were fined a similar amount by European governing body Uefa last month.

    They agreed to pay 15m euros (£13.4m) between them and have 5% of their Uefa competition revenues held for one season, starting in 2023-24.

    In May, Uefa said the other three clubs involved – Real, Barca and Juve – would face "appropriate action" having failed to distance themselves from the ESL.

    BBC Sport was told the clubs were risking being removed from the Champions League if the case went against them, but that now looks unlikely.

    The three clubs believe an order issued by a Madrid court in April that prevents Uefa taking action against them is valid in Switzerland, where the governing body is based.

    This has now been passed to the European Court of Justice for a ruling, which has led to the initial case being stopped.

    Uefa said it was "confident" in its case and would "continue to defend its position in all the relevant jurisdictions".

    'ESL legacy should be restructure of game'

    Football Supporters' Association chair Malcolm Clarke says the £22m payment should not be the end of the matter if the Premier League wants to ensure a similar breakaway proposal will not return in the future.

    "It cannot guarantee that clubs won't try similar again in the decades ahead," he said.

    "The European Super League's legacy should be a total restructure of the game – an independent regulator, genuine power to fans, and wealth redistribution."

    The negative reaction to the ESL has sparked a huge debate about how football is run.

    The government has already announced a fan-led review into football governance and the prospect of an independent regulator in English football is set for a parliamentary debate after a petition, launched by a number of ex-footballers, gained more than 100,000 signatures.

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