Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus would be vulnerable to sanctions from UEFA should they decide to go ahead and set up the European Superleague, the General Advocate of the European Court of Justice has found.
It is not a definitive ruling, but their recommendation will, save for a major surprise, be followed by the European Court of Justice.
The case centred around a legal basis for the European Super League, a breakaway European competition founded in 2020. After nine of the initial 12 members dropped out of the project following fan protests, there has been no material movement since, other than going through legal battles.
NEW: Blow for Super League as Advocate General at European Court of Justice backs Uefa and Fifa
He says it’s fair for Uefa to sanction clubs who want to break away while still playing in Uefa competitions
His decision is not binding but likely to be followed by ECJ pic.twitter.com/0wLZhRZFKN
— Frank Dalleres (@frankdalleres) December 15, 2022
The three remaining sides involved had hoped to be able to set up the Superleague without impunity from UEFA, who initially threatened financial and sporting sanctions for those involved. In real terms, it could mean a multi-year ban from European competition for Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus.
The likelihood is that they will take the matter through a court of appeals, should the verdict be followed. However it will be a serious blow to their hopes of forging ahead with the competition. Those findings are not binding and are expected in spring of 2023.
While the verdict does state that the ESL can be setup legally with prior permission from the European Union, the threat of sanctions from UEFA may prove a definitive nail in the Super League coffin.
Even if those three clubs were willing to risk sanctions from UEFA, without the other major teams in Europe, the ESL will not be profitable. After the other teams were cowed during the initial attempt to set up the ESL, persuading them to move away from UEFA again seems a tough task.
Given the financial difficulties facing both Juventus and Barcelona, both clubs may no longer be in a position to continue in the Superleague. The money earned from European competition is key to avoiding greater losses and the threat of losing that may eventually be too great of a risk to take. Equally, having come this far down the road, there is no doubt they will fight this decision hard.