If you thought the idea of a European football Super League was dead and buried, then think again.
On Monday, European football’s governing body UEFA was forced to drop its disciplinary proceedings against the three remaining Super League clubs.
Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona all refused to renounce the breakaway league when the project collapsed in April following widespread fan protests.
UEFA subsequently attempted to ban the three clubs from competing in the Champions League, but a Spanish court ruling forced UEFA to pause the disciplinary case in June.
“Following the stay of proceedings against FC Barcelona, Juventus FC and Real Madrid CF, in the matter related to a potential violation of UEFA’s legal framework in connection with the so called ‘Super League,’ the UEFA Appeals Body has declared today the proceedings null and void, as if the proceedings had never been opened,” the governing body said in a statement.
The nine clubs that did pull out of the Super League project – Arsenal, AC Milan, Chelsea, Atlético Madrid, Inter Milan, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – were subsequently handed financial penalties by UEFA.
Collectively, the teams were to donate 15 million euros ($18.25M) to charities and to forgo 5% of the revenues they would have received from competitions. UEFA said the clubs have agreed to be fined up to 100 million euros ($121.7M) should they breach their UEFA commitments.
However, the new ruling means these fines cannot be applied.
New legal battle
In its ongoing legal battle with the Super League rebel clubs, UEFA said in a statement on Tuesday that it “does not recognise the jurisdiction of the Court in Madrid” and will be making an appeal to a higher court in Madrid.
UEFA added it had made formal submissions to the Court in Madrid “evidencing its ongoing compliance with the orders.”
“In addition, UEFA has filed a motion for the recusal of the judge presiding over the current proceedings as it believes there are significant irregularities in these proceedings,” UEFA said.
“In line with Spanish law – and in the fundamental interests of justice – UEFA fully expects the judge in question to immediately stand aside pending the full and proper consideration of this motion.
“UEFA will continue to take all necessary steps, in strict accordance with national and EU law, in order to defend its interests and – most importantly – those of its members and all football stakeholders.”
The Super League’s legal team did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
In May, the European Court of Justice said it had received a referral from the European Super League (ESL) that UEFA and FIFA were in “violation of EU Competition rules,” regarding the reference from the Madrid Commercial Court.
The European Court of Justice case “could create a legal earthquake with deeper implications than the ‘Bosman case,’” according to Spanish press agency EFE.
The Super League’s defense is led by law firm Clifford Chance and lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont, architect of the “Bosman case” and the “Meca-Medina case,” and also by the Belgian expert Martin Hissel, according to EFE.
Dupont was part of the legal team which represented Belgian player Jean-Marc Bosman, whose successful battle to switch clubs at the end of his contract with Standard Liege changed the face of the football transfer market. Players are now allowed to move on free transfers when their deals with clubs expire.