La Liga president declares Super League ‘dead’ but Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico won’t face sanctions

La Liga president Javier Tebas says Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will not face sanctions for their attempt to break away with the Super League, a competition he pronounced “dead” even as two of the Spanish clubs offer some indication they hope to save the project.

The presidents Real Madrid and Barcelona have both refused to concede defeat on the 12-team competition, which has been in tatters since its six English members announced their withdrawal on Tuesday, less than 48 hours after the Super League’s official unveiling. Despite Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan both announcing their intention to withdraw — AC Milan stopped just short of doing so in a statement that indicated they were out — Real Madrid chief Florentino Perez claimed late on Wednesday that the plan he had spearheaded was merely on “stand by”, whilst his Barcelona counterpart Joan Laporta said “the project is still there”.

Yet Tebas, speaking on a conference call with senior figures from La Liga clubs Sevilla, Real Betis, Villarreal, Valencia and Levante, was clear that he considered the Super League in the past tense.

“Florentino Perez and Mr Laporta are not making real thoughts,” Tebas said. “The six English clubs will never be in that competition. The German clubs will never participate in that sort of competition. [The Spanish clubs] can’t create what they want to create without these countries.

“I really don’t know what they’re considering at the moment. Obviously we have to reform certain things, this is one of my functions within the UEFA ExCo. They just can’t put pressure on the ExCo [after the collapse of their plans].

“The Super League as it is is dead.”

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Tebas did not stint in his criticism for the proposal, which he described as a “Super League of powerpoints” in deriding their belief that the competition could pull in far more than the $2.7 billion annually that UEFA earns from the Champions League. His message was clear for those clubs, including Real Madrid and Barcelona, who warned of the financial damage they would face without the new tournament. “Maybe these clubs should control their expenses more than their revenues.”

Between them Barcelona and Real Madrid had combined debt in excess of $1 billion as of June last year and their financial position has only worsened amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has kept fans out of grounds for over a year. Addressing Barcelona specifically Tebas said that they “have bigger problems than to be taking on all the rest of the clubs in La Liga and Europe. They need to restructure their debt and work so that their team can be competitive next season.”

However the La Liga chief did appear willing to offer some sort of olive branch should Madrid and Barcelona stop attempting to drag out the Super League by stating he was not pushing for any form of punishment for the three breakaway teams, a view that was echoed by Villarreal president Fernando Roig.

Across Europe those clubs who were left out of the Super League plans are divided as to whether the 12 should face punishment for their failed attempt to breakaway from the structures of the Champions League and Europa League with a midweek competition that would have seen 15 of 20 clubs shielded from the possibility of relegation by their founder status.

The fire and brimstone with which UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin greeted proposals on Monday had cooled to a more amiable tone as clubs began to waver. Tebas echoed that albeit with a warning to Perez and Laporta as they try to breathe life back into the Super League. 

“We’re not talking about sanctions,” he said. “We have procedures. Some things happen. There has been an activity that is very dangerous for football. We will have to see how it all works out at the end.

“If they continue with their project obviously we will have to defend our situation. I’m not talking about sanctions at the moment, I’m talking about other types of agreements. Let’s just wait. We shouldn’t rush into things at the moment when we’re talking about sanctions.

“The most important thing is the fact that these clubs have been sanctioned by their own fans. The clubs have shown that they are not doing a favor for European football. Everyone has said they are against this proposition, [the breakaway clubs’] reputation has been affected. That’s a reputational sanction.”

Tebas also claimed at the meeting that some English clubs had been invited to the Super League at the last minute — sources have indicated to CBS Sports that Chelsea and Manchester City were among this group — and added that Atletico Madrid also joined at the 11th hour. Jose Castro, president of a Sevilla side that has arguably been the fourth power in Spain over recent years, said that his club had not been invited but that they would have rejected any proposal. “Sevilla always want to earn its entry to competitions on the pitch,” he added.

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