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ESL “very much alive” amid legal setback – CEO

The chief executive of the company behind the Super League, Bernd Reichart, has said the project is still “very much alive” despite the rejection of one of the Super League’s key arguments in the latest stage of its legal battle with UEFA.

Reichart, who was appointed CEO of A22 Sports Management in October, was speaking on Friday at a “New Economic Forum” event in Madrid attended by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

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On Thursday the European Court of Justice’s Advocate General rejected the Super League claim that UEFA’s governance of European football constitutes an illegal monopoly under EU competition law, in a non-binding opinion ahead of the court’s final ruling next year.

“The Super League isn’t dead, not at all, it’s very much alive,” Reichart said on Friday. “We’ll keep working until the judgement. We are still convinced that UEFA can’t be everything at once: they organize the competition, they regulate the competition, and at the same time they control access to the market. They’re judge and jury.

“In any sector, that would be intolerable, because there wouldn’t be any innovation… What the Advocate General’s opinion left clear is that [UEFA] have to open up access to the market, and their opinion must be subject to clear rules that limit them in that role.

“For me, that’s a step forward. Until next year we’ll keep working, proposing solutions, listening to the parties involved and developing our proposals. Obviously after that, we’ll need a solid legal basis to propose them.”

When the Super League was launched in April 2021 — initially backed by 12 of Europe’s top clubs, before opposition from fans, politicians and football’s governing bodies led nine to withdraw their support — it filed a lawsuit in Madrid, asking for protection from possible UEFA sanctions.

The judge granted a preliminary injunction before passing the case on to the European Court of Justice.

“This legal process is the first time since the 1950s that this system organised by UEFA will be looked at,” Luis Alonso, a lawyer with Clifford Chance, the firm advising A22 and the Super League, said on Friday.

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“For almost 70 years, there had been no judicial analysis of whether this system is compatible with EU law… Yesterday we had the non-binding opinion of the Advocate General. Next Spring we’ll have a definitive resolution.”

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli was also due to attend the event in Madrid, but organisers said he had been unable to travel due to problems at Turin Airport.

After its initial launch in 2021, the Super League has attempted to rehabilitate its image in recent months with Reichart stressing that any new proposed model would be open and based on merit.

“In the last few weeks we’ve had conversations with 30 clubs from over 10 countries in Europe,” Reichart said on Friday. “They share the diagnosis we’ve made of the current problems faced by football.

“They know change is absolutely necessary. They’ve confirmed we cannot keep moving in the same direction, they’re convinced significant changes are necessary. Clubs want to be the rulers of their own destiny.”

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