The announcement of firm plans for the European Super League raises concerns about how this high-octane event will fit into the arrangements by news companies to cover football and other sport. Not only does the prospect of a new major tournament provoke uncertainty about practical newsroom plans but creates concerns about how commercial media rights sales would impact on independent news reporting.
With some reports indicating the ESL will start as soon as this August (as the EPL gets underway, News Media Coalition members will want to know urgently what level of newsgathering will be possible at ESL games. Newsrooms have become increasingly concerned that background sports commercial rights sales are leading to worse conditions for independent news reporting. Indeed, driven by changes to fan and news consumer habits and expectations, the News Media are seeking to expand the way they report on sport.
Late on Sunday (April 19, 2021, a statement was released on behalf of the ‘Super League’ stating: “Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have today come together to announce they have agreed to establish a new mid-week competition, the Super League, governed by its Founding Clubs.”
Amongst the founding clubs are the Premier League’s self-styled “Big Six” clubs. They have reportedly agreed in principle to support proposals backed by Italian clubs Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan, in addition to Spain’s Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. England is the country with the most sign-ups so far, as Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham have conspired with their European counterparts and are committed to the plan.
It is unclear, at this stage, who would be the main broadcast partner of the tournament after DAZN distanced themselves on Sunday following reports linking the network to the competition. There were suggestions from sources on Sunday evening that one of the global tech streaming giants could yet emerge as a partner.
The founding clubs will receive €3.5 billion, shared between the 15 clubs upon joining, and this would be targeted at offsetting the losses sustained during the global pandemic and to support infrastructure investment plans.
The British public affairs agency InHouse Communications is leading publicity for the launch. Katie Perrior, the chair of InHouse, was formerly head of communications for Theresa May during her period as prime minister, while she also worked on Boris Johnson’s 2008 mayoral campaign.