Spanish court orders UEFA to stop penalising rebel ESL clubs

Scales of justice

July 2 – The legal battle between UEFA and the three remaining heavyweight clubs seeking to keep alive a European Super League has taken another twist with the Spanish courts once again acting to protect their interests.

The Madrid commercial court on Thursday ordered UEFA to scrap all sanctions imposed on Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus for planning the creation of the breakaway league that caused so much division and resentment.

The court also told UEFA not to take any steps to try to exclude the three clubs, who are the last ones standing from the 12 teams originally behind the breakaway league, from the Champions League.

And it ruled UEFA cannot legally force organisers of the Super League from dissolving the project or impose €100 million fines on any other clubs wishing to re-establish the concept in the future.

Seeking to dissuade any future breakaways, UEFA warned of stiff penalties but suspended disciplinary proceedings in June.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus have continued to defend the plan and the latest ruling by the mercantile court, led by Judge Manuel Ruiz de Lara, ordered UEFA to rescind the compromise deal signed by the nine clubs who have since abandoned the ESL whereby they would give up 5% of revenue for one season playing in Europe as a punishment for having initially been members.

The combined payment of €15 million was described by UEFA as a “gesture of goodwill”.

Whether the Madrid ruling will be considered binding by UEFA is open to question but in June, European football’s governing body put on hold its case against the three rebel clubs after Ruiz de Lara referred the affair to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg for a potential breach of competition law.

In Thursday’s ruling, Ruiz de Lara said that “the hidden sanctions imposed on certain founding members of the Super League, under the euphemism of the ‘agreement’ by the clubs … represents a clear failure to comply” with his initial order given in April not to punish the clubs.”

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