A leading sports lawyer has opined that the European Super League led by 12 clubs including the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ could see all concerned end up in a “lose-lose” situation.
The ramifications could see top players retiring from their international careers merely through association with their clubs Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal.
The Super League Company has already taken legal action to try to head off the threat of clubs and players being banned from other competitions but that may not be enough to ward off sanctions from within their own leagues and governing bodies.
“Whether the Premier League were to say ‘If you play in this Super League you can’t play in this league (Premier League) again’ would come down to some interesting arguments among the members themselves,” Stephen Taylor Heath, a specialist sports and media lawyer at JMW Solicitors told the PA news agency.
“A majority of clubs (all rule changes and major commercial contracts require the support of at least a two-thirds (14-club) vote) would have the power in terms of sanctions.
“But if they were to do that I would anticipate there would be certain quality controls in commercial contracts with broadcasters that (stipulate) the top clubs participating in this league.
“If you were to ban them it would have a knock-on effect in terms of commercial revenue and the contracts would have to be renegotiated.
“That’s a potential lose-lose situation because of the knock-on effect for the Premier League and the revenues from the Premier League.”
While the clubs have already explored the ramifications of what that means for them the players may have been blind-sided by this move.
It is unlikely they are aware yet of the full implications of what their employers are planning.
“There is a case the FA, who run the England team and FA Cup, will have the power to say ‘You can’t play for England if you are playing in this league’,” added Taylor Heath, who has recently worked with Leeds and is currently general counsel to Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions Limited.
“It is no different from when the Rugby Football Union said ‘If you carry on playing in France you won’t get picked for England’. It does happen and they do have the power to do it.
“A player’s revenue and commercial bonuses from sponsors will partly be based on whether they get picked for their national team so their potential revenues will be hit by no longer being able to take part in international football.
“The question is going to be if the top players are not playing for the international teams but they are playing for these top club teams does club football at the highest level become even more powerful compared to international football?
“So it is not just domestic leagues which will lose out by playing hardball here, it is international football as well.
“They (leagues and governing bodies) do have the power to impose sanctions because it is within their domain, subject to lawyers getting creative in terms of anti-competitive practices. The question is ultimately who is going to lose out?
“You can take your bat and ball home and say you are not playing in our league but that sort of brinkmanship eventually ends up with everyone potentially losing and maybe this is a revolution (in which) everyone tries to keep a cool head and see what the way forward is.”