Super League six face £25m fines if ESL debacle repeated

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The six English clubs which secretly agreed to play in a European Super League (ESL) are to pay a combined £22m penalty but face a much higher bill if such a breakaway is attempted in future, under a deal with the Premier League.

The punishment was confirmed hours after a report by Sky News that an agreement was to be announced to draw a line under the affair – and bolster the prospect of no repeat.

A statement said that Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur faced a 30-point league deduction and £25m fine per club in the event of such a move.

Chelsea fans protest outside Stamford Bridge against the European Super League plans. Pic: AP
Image:
Plans for the super league sparked protests. Pic: AP

The £22m fine, which is roughly equal to £3.7m per club, was described as a “gesture of goodwill” to go towards “the good of the game”, the league said, including new investment in support for fans, grassroots football and community programmes.

“The Premier League and The FA have worked closely together throughout this process and this agreement brings both investigations into the matter to a conclusion,” the statement said.

The Super League was launched in April with 12 clubs as founding members, but nine of them – including all six from England, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid – have since backed out amid a furious backlash from fans.

Only Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid have yet to formally withdraw from the ESL – raising the prospect of them being banned from next season’s Champions League.

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The size of the penalties is comparable to those agreed with UEFA, the governing body of European football, several weeks ago.

Premier League directors are said to have decided that drawing a line under the ESL project was a priority ahead of the league’s annual conference – attended by all 20 clubs – beginning on Thursday.

A future breakaway is now seen as virtually impossible because of impending changes to the league’s constitution, although board members are understood to have been determined to place a formal financial deterrent in the path of any such moves.

Confirmation of the ESL’s existence, which came six months after Sky News revealed key details of the project, sparked unprecedented protests against the owners of many of the participating English clubs.

Arsenal has since received an unsolicited takeover bid from the Spotify billionaire Daniel Ek, while Manchester United’s largest shareholders, the Glazer family, said they would allow fans to buy shares in the club.

Executives from the six clubs have been removed from several Premier League sub-committees – a move that could be reversed following the agreement of the financial settlement.

A fan-led review of football governance has been commissioned by the government under the leadership of Tracey Crouch, the former sports minister.

Its panellists will include the chief executives of Everton FC and the Football Supporters Association.

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