finance

Broadcasters 'should commit to TV ban' of European Super League



Scottish politicians have weighed in on plans for a breakaway European football Super League, with one arguing that broadcasters should commit to not televising its games.

On Sunday, it was announced that Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham in England – along with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus on the continent – agreed to join A European Super League as founder members.

The league could eventually feature 20 teams and rival the UEFA Champions League.

The 12 clubs would continue to play in their own domestic leagues, assuming authorities did not kick them out as many pundits have suggested they should if the project goes ahead.

The proposals have sparked fear among other clubs across the English football pyramid that they would be left behind in financial terms.

Jamie Stone MP, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for digital, culture, media, and sport has called on broadcasters BBC, Sky and Amazon to reject the proposals by not televising its games.

BT Sport and DAZN have already denounced the proposals and distanced themselves from broadcasting Super League matches. The Liberal Democrat MP has now written to BBC, Sky and Amazon urging them to do the same.

“The proposals of a European Super League threaten the very essence of football,” Stone wrote in a letter to broadcasters asking them to commit to “never broadcast any games should the league come to fruition”.

Following comments from the Secretary of State for Media and Sport Oliver Dowden, that the Conservative government will launch a fan led review, Stone said: “The Super League proposals are the most extreme example of oligarchs and tycoons robbing fans of the game we love.

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“I suspect that if these plans go ahead, fans will boycott European Super League games – I am confident that if the media, government, and most importantly football fans come together, we can stop this nonsense.

“I want to see an independent regulator established with some real teeth – enough to take on the billionaire owners and put power back into the hands of fans.”

Meanwhile, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland – and former board member of Heart of Midlothian Football Club – Ian Murray said that the Labour Party backs fan ownership of Scotland’s football clubs.

“Football belongs to the fans – not to a cartel of billionaires at the top,” he stated.

“Scottish Labour is determined to reinvigorate the game in Scotland from grassroots to national team by supporting fan ownership of clubs and reform of the game at all levels in Scotland.

“We’re dedicated to supporting the future of the game in Scotland and putting fans in control, from the dugout to the directors’ box from grassroots to the governance of the game.”

Ryan Macready, corporate lawyer and sports law specialist at Gilson Gray, commented on the potential legal advantage the breakaway clubs have in response to the suggestion that players in the European Super League should be banned from UEFA competitions.

“Sports law enthusiasts will remember the recent International Skating Union case brought before the European Commission and the General Court of the European Union which was finally decided in December 2020, which centred around two Dutch speed skaters, Mark Tuitert and Niels Kerstholt, who competed in financially lucrative skating events that were not approved by the ISU.

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“The ISU sought to sanction the skaters for taking part in these events, banning them from competing in future ISU tournaments – both skaters successfully challenged their bans.

“The European Commission ruled in 2017 that banning sportsmen and women for competing in an ‘unsanctioned’ event was a violation of EU competition law.

“The ISU appealed, but the decision as it related to the sanctions was upheld in December 2020, accordingly, the sanctions were deemed to be anti-competitive and void, meaning Tuitert and Kerstholt were free to skate in future ISU competitions.”

Macready said there are clear parallels between this case and the European Super League.

“Of course, the ISU case was about individuals, not clubs, but I would be surprised if the ESL founding clubs and their legal teams didn’t follow the ISU case with an eager eye.

“Given the commercial importance of the top players in creating commercial and sporting success for the ESL, the threat of being banned from playing in the European Championships or World Cups might have made top players think twice about joining.”

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