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European Super League: 6 ways that the breakaway could be stopped

Liverpool
(Image credit: Getty)

The European Super League is here: a new era is set to wash over football. And no one wants it. 

The greed of the 12 clubs breaking away from the rest of football has driven the sport to a precipice. It feels like these clubs and their billionaire bankrollers are far too powerful to be stopped now. This has been talked about for years - is it just a matter of time?

Well, perhaps not. You see, there's a lot money invested into the Super League already but there's a lot of money invested in the current structures that keep the Premier League, the FA, UEFA and FIFA all in check. Where do we go from here?

1. Domestic leagues kick out the rebels

It is against Premier League rules for any of its member clubs to participate in unauthorised competitions. Essentially, the sordid six may well have already broken the rules sufficiently to be docked points. If they go further, expulsion could be on the cards.

The Premier League is the biggest league in the world. It is not going to idly stand by while its six biggest sides either leave or dilute its product. It can dish out fines and punishments to its members as it sees fit. And this might - might - be enough of a punishment for the Premier League clubs to back down. 

Then consider Serie A and La Liga's response. They're going to be mightily unhappy about it, too. The Super League says that it wants to work in conjunction to form this new tournament as supplementary to others - it feels as if Florentino Perez is almost goading governing bodies to remove these clubs. Maybe they will. 

Will it happen? Definitely a possibility.

Will it stop the Super League? It might even be part of the Super League plan!

2. National associations, UEFA and FIFA prevent international participation

UEFA

(Image credit: PA Images)

The Football Association has been the bedrock of the English game for a century and a half - but it really isn't a big player in this whole saga. It does have an ace card, though. 

As many players have noted in recent days, kids grow up dreaming of playing in World Cups and European Cups - not the Super League. So what happens if the FA decides to ban Super League stars for playing for England? Is it really worth it? 

UEFA and FIFA have already made clear their position: they intend to stop Super League players competing in the European Championships and World Cup.

There are rumours that international tournaments could be set up by the Super League. But still, that could be years away - it's not worth a player missing their peak for this, surely...

Will it happen? Legal wranglings could see this one decided in court – but we currently expect to see a full roster at Euro 2020.

Would it stop the Super League? Why would it? Unless...

ALSO READ How Euro 2020 could play out without European Super League players

3. The people at the heart of the sport go on strike

...which brings us onto the people who make this whole thing happen. The players and managers. Many have already spoken out about this and Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson is chairing an emergency meeting today between Premier League captains.

If the players decide that they aren't going to play in the Super League, the whole thing collapses like a house of cards. It would take a lot of mobilising, though; players deciding to boycott this tournament would be unprecedented.

What would be the trigger for this? Well, for one, many standard Premier League contracts have clauses that mean clubs can't prevent the players from representing their countries.

The other reason is less romantic, but still pretty important. The Financial Times reports that leaked documents show the Super League's plans to revolutionise the way football's finances operate – including player wage caps.

Think it wouldn't happen? A player strike in 1961 is what got rid of the wage cap in the first place (£20, if you were wondering).

Will it happen? Probably not. The French aren't involved, after all.

Would it stop the Super League? This would surely be a problem they could solve by chucking money at it.

4. Fan power prevails

Leeds United v Liverpool – Premier League – Elland Road

(Image credit: PA)

If the fans don't watch the Super League, who is it for, exactly?

There has been an overwhelmingly negative reaction to these plans, with fans protesting the Super League outside stadiums and fans groups speaking out in opposition. Usually, such fan groups are listened to by clubs - to a degree - but none have been so far over this issue. 

There is a slither of hope that the Super League simply backs down in the face of such an ugly PR battle - but the longer this drags on, the longer it seems that won't happen. Such disgust from fans was due to be expected - but how much can the disloyal dozen take from their own supporters? How much hate will break a brand's back? And can they ever return to the relationship they had with their "consumers" after this?

Will it happen? Oh, you betcha. It's already begun, and it won't die down anytime soon.

Would it stop the Super League? Fanbases alone might not have the power, but the pressure it creates may embolden others to act.

5. Broadcasters aren't interested in showing it

This one seems hard to believe, right? The biggest clubs in the world playing each other on a weekly basis seems like a helluva starting point for a successful subscription model.

But in the UK, at least, things don't look so rosy right now. Broadcasters are both angry that the competitions they have spent a lot of money on multi-year rights deals for have been devalued overnight and clearly spooked by the level of opposition from fans (er, see above).

While no one has ruled out showing it yet, BT Sport, Amazon Prime and Sky Sports have all issued statements outlining their scepticism, while the latter's pundits have been leading voices in the pushback. Gary Lineker, the most high-profile and well-paid football pundit in Britain, has said he won't work on Super League coverage.

Will it happen? Someone, somewhere will put up the bucks to show this – or the Super League will introduce its own subscription service.

Would it stop the Super League? It could seriously hamper domestic interest in the league – relative newcomers BT Sport have struggled to rival Sky Sports here, despite exclusive Champions League rights, and recent BBC matches have shown the appetite for free-to-air football. But US and east Asian markets could be more valuable.

6. Governments intervene

Premier League ball

(Image credit: PA)

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has promised a "legislative bomb" to put a halt to the Super League, while the Labour opposition has pledged not to slow down any efforts to bring in new laws.

While the government says "nothing is off the table", that means specifics are harder to come by. Options floated so far include withdrawing the powers of clubs to sponsor work visas (essentially curbing the ability to sign foreign players), withdrawing funding for policing of Super League matches and referring the league to the competition authorities, due to the 'closed shop' nature.

The government has also announced a wider review into the structure of football governance, though Labour has warned this shouldn't be a reason to prevent more immediate action.

Will it happen? Some form of government action is almost certain – though it doesn't seem certain itself what form that will take.

Will it stop the Super League? Halting visas seems like the kind of move that would end up in court, while effectively blocking games on English soil will accelerate the inevitable move to host some games abroad.

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