An official ruling in the much-anticipated case involving the European Super League (ESL) has come to light. The European Court of Justice declared that UEFA and FIFA abused their positions in attempting to block the ESL from forming. The two governing bodies of the sport acted unlawfully by threatening to sanction clubs for joining the league.

While the top European court did rule in favor of the ESL, they did not fully endorse the league. The court declared that the final decision “does not mean that a competition such as the Super League project must necessarily be approved.”

Twelve top European clubs previously sent shockwaves through the sport when they revealed plans to start a new breakaway league in 2021. Half of these teams were the ‘Big Six’ Premier League sides. Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus were among the other sides to initially join the ESL. However, plans to defect quickly unraveled due to fan backlash. In the end, only Barcelona and Real Madrid remained fully committed to the project.

UEFA claims that the ruling does not change anything

UEFA released an official statement following the court’s decision on Thursday. “This ruling does not signify an endorsement or validation of the so-called ‘super league’; it rather underscores a pre-existing shortfall within UEFA’s pre-authorization framework, a technical aspect that has already been acknowledged and addressed in June 2022,” stated the governing body.

“UEFA remains resolute in its commitment to uphold the European football pyramid, ensuring that it continues to serve the broader interests of society. We will continue to shape the European sports model collectively with national associations, leagues, clubs, fans, players, coaches, EU institutions, governments and partners alike.”

“We trust that the solidarity-based European football pyramid that the fans and all stakeholders have declared as their irreplaceable model will be safeguarded against the threat of breakaways by European and national laws.”

ESL officials declare victory in contentious court case

Bernd Reichart, an executive involved with the ESL, proclaimed victory against the governing body.

“We have won the right to compete. The UEFA monopoly is over. Football is free,” Reichart posted on X. “Clubs are now free from the threat of sanction and free to determine their own futures.”

ESL officials then quickly unveiled plans to expand their breakaway league. In the proposal, 64 men’s clubs and 32 women’s teams would compete in multiple divisions. There would be promotion and relegation between the leagues. Although only select clubs would receive an invitation to join the new ESL, there would be no permanent membership.

ESL teams could also remain in their current domestic leagues as well. Organizers tentatively scheduled matches for the middle of the week. The competition would rival UEFA’s Champions League.

Teams are already voicing solidarity with UEFA

Despite these plans, it is unclear if the ESL can make it off of the ground. Officials of the breakaway league are attempting to entice potential clubs with guaranteed money. Each team would receive a minimum of $439 million for the first three years of the competition.

Nevertheless, clubs previously aligned with the ESL have already sent support for UEFA. Manchester United reiterated that they will remain in their current format.

“Our position has not changed,” a statement from United wrote. “We remain fully committed to participation in UEFA competitions, and to positive cooperation with UEFA, the Premier League, and fellow clubs through the ECA on the continued development of the European game.”

Bayern Munich also echoed the English club’s sentiments. “We have taken note of the judgment of the European Court of Justice,” stated Jan Christian Dreesen, a high-ranking official at the German team. “However, this does not change FC Bayern’s position that such a competition would be an attack on the importance of the national leagues and the structure of European football.”

“The Bundesliga is the foundation of FC Bayern, just as all national leagues are the foundation of other European football clubs. It is therefore our duty and our deep conviction to strengthen them, not to weaken them. We are also committed to the European club competitions under the umbrella of UEFA. So let me make it very clear once again that the door for the Super League remains closed at FC Bayern.”

Top European teams may have learned their lesson back in 2021 when they previously attempted to join the league. Fans overwhelmingly support UEFA’s current arrangement. Time will tell just how many clubs the ESL can persuade to their newly designed format.