Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's first goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Leeds United at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021. AP
Nine of the teams who were part of the ill-fated launch of a breakaway Super League have been welcomed back into the decision-making organization overseeing the European club game.
Six English clubs _ Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham _ will be members of European Club Association again along with AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid.
But Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus are refusing to giving up on the largely-closed breakaway competition to launch a rival to the Champions League, prolonging the rift with UEFA and their European counterparts.
All 12 founding Super League clubs quit the ECA in April when they reneged on previous commitments to UEFA to launch the Super League. The nine now reintegrated into the ECA collapsed the project when they abandoned the Super League amid a backlash from governing bodies and supporters _ particularly in England.
The ECA is now chaired by Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the president of Paris Saint-Germain, which never signed up to the Super League that collapsed inside 48 hours. The ECA said there was ``an exhaustive process of re-engagement by the clubs and re-assessment'' before its executive board allowed them to withdraw their previous resignations.
``The ECA executive board took into consideration the clubs' acknowledgement that the so-called European Super League project was not in the interests of the wider football community and their publicly communicated decisions to abandon said ESL project completely,'' the ECA said in a statement on Monday. ``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 nine former rebel clubs have already agreed to a financial settlement with UEFA, accepting fines as an acknowledgement of wrongdoing for trying to split from existing competition structures. They made a combined payment of 15 million euros ($18 million) and will give up 5% of revenue for one season playing in Europe.
In a move to prevent them deploying the Super League threat again, the clubs have also agreed to be fined 100 million euros if they seek again to play in an unauthorized competition or 50 million euros if they breach any other commitments to UEFA as part of the settlement.
Despite lacking the backing of their biggest European counterparts, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus are still pursuing legal action to challenge what they called ``UEFA's monopolistic position over European football.'' They hope the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg will rule in their favor and permit the concept of a Super League not run by UEFA being explored by teams.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)