Over a dozen big clubs from England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain are reportedly in negotiations with FIFA about a massive new “European Premier League” that would revolutionize the soccer world — much to UEFA’s chagrin — Sky News reports.
According to Sky, “as many as five English clubs” may sign up to join the initiative, and they speculate that PSG, Bayern Munich, and Juventus Turin have also probably been approached. A provisional start date as early as 2022 is being discussed.
That, of course, will rankle UEFA, since the new competition would effectively replace the Champions League and strip the European organization of its biggest moneymaker.
They hypothetical league would consist of 16 or 18 teams who would play approximately 30 matches in a round robin style. The top finishers would then play a knockout-style mini-tournament to decide the winner — “with prize money for the winners expected to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds each year.”
JP Morgan is reportedly involved in talks to furnish some $6 billion of “debt financing” to help launch the league, anticipating repayment from the broadcasting revenue the league would generate. That obviously would do a world of good for debt-ridden clubs like FC Barcelona. Real Madrid’s Florentino Perez is also said to be one of the driving proponents of the plan.
The problem, of course, is that it is not clear whether UEFA is involved in the talks. If they were not, insiders told Sky News that the initiative would be an “incendiary” move by FIFA to undermine the European federation. UEFA would undoubtedly litigate fiercely to preserve its grip on one of world soccer’s biggest cash cows.
UEFA is already planning to revise the format of the Champions League when its current broadcasting contract ends in 2024. It has already discussed the possibility of implementing a single-match knockout round for the latter stages of the competition in the wake of the popularity of last season’s competition, which was necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.
In the recent past, Bayern Munich CEO has reiterated the club’s commitment to remaining in the Bundesliga. If this European Premier League were somehow supplemental to the national leagues, as the Champions League has been, Bayern could conceivably be open to the idea.
If, however, a hypothetical European Premier League effectively splits off the biggest teams of Europe from their national leagues, in addition to killing the Champions League, Bayern could potentially oppose it, particularly since it has nothing to gain from the incentive of debt financing that would be so attractive to its fiscally irresponsible peers.