European Super League unveiled but broadcast plans unclear | Pay-TV | News | Rapid TV News
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After its formation was announced to the fury of football fans and teams, industry analysts are questioning whether the proposed European Super League (ESL) has commercial viability.
superleague 19april2021
The ESL was announced late on 18 April 2021 with twelve founding clubs: Atlético de Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid from Spain; AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus of Italy; and England’s Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. Three more founding clubs are anticipated.

In the ESL, founding clubs will share €3.5 billion, underwritten by US investment bank JP Morgan, to get the league underway and clubs will be rewarded with handsome welcome bonuses. At full strength, the new league is envisaged to have 20 clubs split into two groups of ten, playing midweek and then in their domestic competitions at weekends.

The new competition is pitched as a direct competitor to the Champions League from European football governing body UEFA which announced its own major revision today. The aforementioned clubs are bitterly opposed to the new Champions League and the way in which income has been designated to be shared especially in a new extended format of 36 teams. In general, the diverse ownership of the ESL 12 believe that UEFA competitions undervalue their clubs.

A statement by UEFA, the English Football Association, the Premier League, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), LaLiga, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and Lega Serie A denounced the ESL as a “cynical project” that was founded on the “self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever.” The bodies said that is the ESL began they would “consider all measures available” both judicial and sporting in order to prevent the project happening.

The assumption that the ESL will be a huge money spinner and draw huge revenue from leading broadcasters. However, to date no major global broadcaster has offered open commitment to the project. BT Sport, which many would expect to be in the running for bidding rights, said in a statement that it recognised the concerns raised by fans and voices within football and believed that the founding of the ESL could have a damaging effect on the health of football in England.

For Tim Westcott, senior principal analyst, channels and programming at Omdia, there were a number of key unanswered questions, the most important being which other eight clubs would be making up the numbers and who the media partner or partners will be.

“Silvio Berlusconi was usually linked with rumours of breakaway leagues back when he owned AC Milan, while Rupert Murdoch’s Sky was instrumental in the foundation of the Premier League. Given the importance of broadcasting (which accounted for around 85% of UEFA’s revenues in 2018/19 and more like 100% now), who buys the media rights and how much they pay is crucial,” he said.

“As seen in the recent German and Italy rights auctions, pay-TV broadcasters are no longer as keen to splash out on rights as they used to be, and streaming service DAZN has denied Italian press reports that it is on board with the new super league. Clearly, the big clubs are eyeing increased returns from growing markets like Asia and North America, but Europe will of course provide the bulk of its revenues. Is there a US partner like Disney, NBC or Discovery waiting in the wings, looking for premium sports content to drive their direct-to-consumer services into more European homes? Or would the clubs launch their own channel? It seems unlikely the European anti-trust regulators would like that idea much and neither, it seems, would the UK.”