Plans for a breakaway European Super League are dead, at least for the time being, and rather than seeking to punish the 12 clubs who pushed for its creation UEFA want to look towards the future.
“I said yesterday that it is admirable to admit a mistake and these clubs made a big mistake,” said UEFA chief Aleksander Čeferin. “But they are back in the fold now and I know they have a lot to offer.
“Not just to our competitions, but to the whole of the European game. The important thing now is that we move on, rebuild the unity that the game enjoyed before this and move forward together.”
It’s a pleasant enough soundbite, and there are some very good reasons for UEFA not to seek to push the 12 clubs, including reported ringleaders Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Juventus.
At the forefront of UEFA’s thinking will be a desire not to push Europe’s top earners into a position where punishment might drive them back towards their plans to break away from the rest of Europe.
It’s also worth considering, though it may not be at the forefront of UEFA’s thinking, that any punishment would primarily impact the payers, coaches, and fans rather than the owners of the clubs involved.
It was those players, coaches, and fans after all who helped to turn the tide, and without the groundswell of anti-Super League sentiment they were at the forefront of, the owners’ plans likely go through.
Still, even if there is a need to look forward, and even if punishing the clubs would risk backfiring for both UEFA and fans of football more broadly, it’s fair to question UEFA’s role in deciding what comes next.
Their proposals for an expanded Champions League that will further congest schedules and reward sides that haven’t earned it on the pitch with qualification slots hardly seems better than a Super League.
Then there’s UEFA’s financial fair play failures that were one of the motivators for clubs like Liverpool to try to found a Super League to keep up with sides that can spend without concern for their bottom line.
Add in a lengthy history of corruption, and it’s hard to credit UEFA as being the altruistic guiding force they would like to present themselves as. Still, the Super League appears dead, and that’s a start.
Or it least it could be if the fans can take the energy of the past few days—and confirmation their voices can be made to matter—and continue to put pressure on those who claim to be stewards of the game.