But after the teams involved made almost no public comments, the Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez, the only executive involved in the scheme to defend it publicly, was left to defend it alone on a chat show that was broadcast at midnight Monday in Spain.
Pérez, the chairman of the new league and one of its leading proponents behind the scenes, insisted the project would benefit all of soccer, which he said was at risk of economic collapse because of the global pandemic. He did not address why so many of the clubs that have signed up to the new league had been so badly mismanaged before the pandemic struck, or make a persuasive case for how funneling billions of dollars in television and sponsorship revenue to a handful of top clubs would filter down to the leagues and teams that will be left out.
Many of those teams fear an immediate loss of value for their own teams and leagues, and possibly financial ruin. Fans, meanwhile, have railed against what they see as a cash grab by a few rich clubs that threatens to destroy century-old rivalries and beloved domestic leagues.
“Whenever there is a change, there are always people who oppose it,” Pérez said on the Spanish soccer show “El Chiringuito de Jugones.” “We are doing this to save football at this critical moment.”
Pérez also contended that the competition would serve the wider soccer economy by spending money on talent, essentially arguing that those excluded would act as feeder teams for the far richer Super League clubs. An additional annual “solidarity” payment of 400 million euros — almost $500 million — would also be provided to the have-nots, he said. That amount would offset some of the billions lost through the devaluation of domestic and international television rights that other competitions would suffer as a result of the new tournament, though most experts argue the financial costs could be far higher for those on the outside.
Despite the backlash, however, the Super League’s backers are forging ahead. Their lawyers already have filed motions in courts across Europe to ensure their efforts cannot be stymied. A commercial court in Spain, where the company created to run the Super League is based, issued a ruling Tuesday in the group’s favor. It prohibited FIFA, UEFA and national federations from adopting “any measure that prohibits, restricts, limits or conditions in any way” the creation of the new competition.
But the secrecy with which they have worked has infuriated their putative partners in the game.
England’s Premier League, meanwhile, held a meeting on Tuesday without the six Super League teams, and finished it by threatening to sanction the rebels.