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Bookmakers have halted the betting markets on the two major European soccer tournaments. That’s after organizer UEFA threatened to kick out 12 elite teams over their intent to form the breakaway “European Super League” (ESL).
The controversial plan has been condemned by the sport’s governing bodies and fans alike, who see it as a cynical cash grab by the billionaire owners of the world’s biggest soccer clubs.
On Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson threatened to “drop a legislative bomb” on the ESL to stop it from happening.
The Champions League and Europa League are scheduled to stage their semi-finals next week, but it is unclear if these will now go ahead.
On Monday, UEFA threatened to ban ESL teams from all its competitions, while FIFA said participating players would be kicked out of the World Cup.
Breakaway teams Manchester City, Chelsea, and Real Madrid are still in the Champions League semi-finals, while Arsenal and Manchester United are in the corresponding stage of the Europa League.
Why All the Fuss About ESL?
The ESL would be a mid-week competition that would run alongside the 12 teams’ domestic league competitions. But the 12 founders – drawn from the top teams in England, Spain, and Italy – would be permanent fixtures in the ESL.
They would not need to qualify, as they do with the Champions League, nor could they ever be relegated.
The plan is for each ESL season to have 20 teams, with the 12 founders, plus three yet to join, enjoying permanent residency, and five others qualifying for domestic leagues across Europe each year.
The founding teams have been promised a share of a $3 billion grant supplied by JP Morgan. Many are heavily in debt and this has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Guaranteed entry into what is expected to become Europe’s biggest soccer competition each year will transform their notoriously volatile businesses into valuable and stable enterprises.
But the value of domestic competitions like the English Premier League will be devalued, as will the Champions League, changing the face of European soccer as we know it.
And it’s clear that the fans of the 12 clubs do not want the ESL. Fan groups have been unified their condemnation of the plan and have railed against the owners of their teams.
Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust said the ESL was a “concept driven by avarice and self-interest at the expense of the intrinsic values of the game we hold so dear.”
Betting on the Big Picture
In the absence of Champion League and Europa League betting, bookmakers are speculating instead on the bigger picture, such as will this thing actually happen, and will the teams involved get kicked out of their domestic leagues.
Paddy Power thinks the Super League is here to stay, offering 5/6 that Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, and Liverpool will play an ESL match before 2025.
For the same teams not to play in the EPL next season, it’s a sobering 4/1.
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