Conspirator clubs were signing up to UEFA’s Champions League plans at the same time their lawyers were filing for a trademark to enshrine the European Super League in law.
In yet another example of the Super League plotters’ cynicism, Sportsmail has learned an application to trademark the name and branding of ‘The Super League’ was filed in Germany on Friday by the Barcelona office of the elite law firm, Clifford Chance.
Meanwhile, members of the European Club Association board were meeting online to finalise an agreement with UEFA on reforms to the Champions League. But even while they dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s, six of them knew they were about to jump ship.
Liverpool and Tottenham were among six English teams to have agreed to the new project
Plans for the European Super League collapsed 48 hours after it was officially announced
‘They were probably not interested in what we were saying,’ Wanja Greuel, the chief executive of BSC Young Boys in Switzerland told Sportsmail.
‘It was betrayal. We had discussions about the Champions League about what could be better or what we could change. It was going very smoothly.
‘And at the end there was a clear opinion that we would go ahead with the UEFA competition. We found a common solution. But of course, they all knew. We now know those guys knew they would back away.’
Aleksander Ceferin, president of UEFA, savaged the plotters behind the Super League
Mr Greuel only discovered the betrayal on Sunday morning with other members of the ECA board.
‘I could not believe it. We were so disappointed and angry. It was total shock. It’s the worst thing you can do and they had been doing it for such a long time. They were so ice cold.
Juventus chief Andrea Agnelli was made vice president of the European Super League
On Sunday night, shockwaves reverberated around the football world when the European Super League plans were announced – a breakaway tournament that would replace clubs’ European commitments with UEFA, such as the Champions League.
England’s Big Six – Manchester United, Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham – alongside Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan wee the founding members.
And the football world was reeling again 48 hours later when the derided project began to unravel on Tuesday night, as the English clubs pulled out.
Arsenal fans hung banners outside the Emirates Stadium in protest at the proposals
And the project finally received the last rites when Juventus chairman, Andrea Agnelli, admitted the European Super League project cannot proceed after AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid joined the six Premier League clubs in withdrawing.
As the project died Greuel reflected on ‘mixed feelings’.
‘On the one hand I am happy because I think this would have been the biggest disaster for European football,’ he said.
‘But I am confused. Did they really think there would be less protest. In my opinion, that was to be expected.
Liverpool fans protest outside Anfield on Monday amid the European Super League plans
The fans’ organisation, Football Supporters’ Europe, says the two-faced approach of the rebel clubs revealed them to be ‘bandits’.
‘For better or worse the governance of European football has been based on trust and compromise and they have blown that away’ said Ronan Evain, chief executive of the FSE.
‘They are bandits. They hijacked football. You cannot compromise with bandits.’
However, the FSE has been heartened by a surprising solidarity among fans.
‘There is a huge feeling of solidarity towards the fans of the affected clubs, like Liverpool,’ said Evain.
The fans’ group insists that the experience of the last three days must result in meaningful reform of football.
‘Unlike the franchise league, these problems will not disappear overnight,’ FSA said in a statement.
‘We are therefore committed to maintaining pressure on European and domestic football governing bodies to ensure that recent events bring about positive and lasting change.
‘We fully expect national governments and European institutions to honour their commitments to protect fans, clubs and football as a whole.
‘To avoid a repetition of this week’s debacle, fans’ representatives must be involved in decision making processes and club cartels must be prevented from acting with impunity.
‘We demand stronger regulation. We demand immediate action to safeguard our clubs and communities. And we demand this never happens again.
‘The real fight begins now.’