By Paul Nicholson
August 16 – The European Club Association (ECA), has agreed that nine of the 12 European Super League (ESL) breakaway clubs can remain as members following their requests to withdraw their resignations from the club body.
AC Milan, Arsenal, Chelsea, Club Atlético de Madrid, FC Internazionale Milano, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur had originally resigned from the ECA on April 21 when the short-lived ESL was announced.
While the nine clubs will retain their ECA ordinary membership for the current 2019-23 ECA membership cycle, the three remaining rebels – Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus – are looking increasingly isolated from the mainstream as they pursue a legal judgement they hope will legitimise their three-club breakaway.
In a statement the ECA said that there had been “an exhaustive process of re-engagement by the Clubs and re-assessment by ECA over recent months”. The ECA Executive Board said it had taken into consideration the clubs’ recognition that the ESL “was not in the interests of the wider football community and their publicly communicated decisions to abandon said ESL Project completely. The ECA Board also acknowledged the Clubs’ stated willingness to engage actively with ECA in its collective mission to develop European club football – in the open and transparent interests of all, not the few.”
The re-admittance of the clubs effectively caps any chance of a significant Super League breakaway in the future, though does not rule out the possibility of a Super League under any reformed structure as long as it is governed within European football’s existing governance structures.
“This decision of the ECA Board marks the end of a regrettable and turbulent episode for European football and aligns with ECA’s relentless focus to strengthen unity in European football,” said the ECA statement.
“Through this period of unprecedented challenge, ECA has firmly established itself as the only organisation through which the leading clubs in Europe can promote and protect their interests in football, whilst also developing the competition landscape and reinforcing the centrality of clubs in the governance of European football.
“ECA can now proceed with renewed unity and solidarity to continue the important work needed to stabilise and develop European club football – at a time when this is needed the most.”
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