Barcelona, one of the best football clubs in the world, have championed the controversial Super League project which collapsed this week, arguing against “reckless action” and calling for a review of the proposed competition without “undue pressure and intimidation”.
The Spanish club, which are grappling with losses from the pandemic, backed their arch-rival Real Madrid on Thursday night to support the separatist tournament.
“The decision was taken with the belief that it would have been a historic mistake to refuse the opportunity to be part of this project as one of its founding members,” said Barcelona.
However, the two Spanish teams face an uphill struggle to make the competition a reality after most of its founding clubs from England, Italy and Spain have declared their intention to withdraw following the reaction from supporters, rivals, governing bodies, players and politicians.
Earlier on Thursday, Spain’s La Liga said the 12 football clubs seeking to create a widely criticized European Super League should get their finances under control after years of overspending on players.
Barcelona suffered from growing debt after heavy losses due to lost income on match day. The Super League was designed to offer its founding members ‘welcome bonuses’ worth 200-300 million euros each to help them recover from the pandemic.
Critics of the multibillion-euro project now defunct accused his supporters of trying to create a “closed” competition dominated by the wealthier clubs, most of whom now intend to withdraw from the project.
La Liga president Javier Tebas, who heads Spain’s top two domestic divisions, told a press conference on Thursday that separatist clubs should rethink their business models to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and that wealth should be divided between more clubs and countries.
“Maybe these clubs should control their spending more than their income,” said Tebas, one of the most powerful leaders in European football.
His call for spending cuts would mark a major change for clubs who have for years increased their transfer and salary budgets for signing and retaining star players, and stresses that the Super League’s collapse does not solve the problem. huge losses suffered by leagues and clubs because of the pandemic.
“Instead of having three or four Ferraris, you only have one Ferrari, and in short, adjust the expenses to what reality is and our reality is now marked by Covid, which reminded us that income cannot increase indefinitely, “said Fernando Roig, majority owner and president of La Liga Villarreal CF.
Separatist teams had hoped the Super League could attract billions in revenue to replenish their finances after the coronavirus pandemic. The 20 richest clubs in the world are at risk of missing € 2 billion in turnover in the two seasons hit by the pandemic, according to Deloitte consultants.
Florentino Perez, president of Real Madrid and mastermind of the Super League, had said that the competition would “save football” and that the increase in income generated by the best European clubs could also have benefited his rivals.
Tebas accused him of “creating numbers that are not real”, calling the project a “Super League of Powerpoints”. The La Liga president has insisted he will seek to prevent the resurrection of similar breakaway efforts but not impose sanctions on the clubs.
The repercussions for the 12 clubs behind the Super League are still emerging. In England, the Premier League is pushing to remove representatives of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur from its subcommittees, according to a close friend of the English elite.
Joel Glazer, member of the American billionaire family and part-owner of Manchester United, apologized for his club’s role in the Super League, but said football must “become more sustainable”.