All six English ESL breakaway sides rejoin European Club Association

Nine of the 12 founding European Super League clubs have further distanced themselves from the project by agreeing to rejoin the European Club Association, a body they quit en masse during the aborted breakaway. The clubs to have agreed a deal with the ECA include all six English sides – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Spurs – who were behind the launch of the ESL, along with Milan, Internazionale and Atlético Madrid.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus – whose chairman, Andrea Agnelli, had been president of the ECA before the split – are continuing to back the Super League project.

In accepting an application to rejoin the organisation, the ECA said the nine clubs had acknowledged the ESL “was not in the interests of the wider football community”. Their decision to rejoin, in turn, meant the ECA had “firmly established itself as the only organisation through which the leading clubs in Europe can promote and protect their interests in football”, the organisation said.

Their next step would be to act with “renewed unity and solidarity to continue the important work needed to stabilise and develop European club football”.

Details behind the decision to accept the clubs’ application, after what the ECA called “an exhaustive process of re-engagement … and re-assessment” were not made public, although it is understood the clubs have not paid any fines. The nine had previously agreed a settlement with Uefa, so as to remain in European club competition, which had included fines of roughly £1.5m and greater sanctions should the clubs ever attempt another spin-off competition.

The ECA has become an increasingly powerful voice in football over the past decade, with influence on all of Uefa’s central committees. Agnelli had been seen as a prime mover behind the decision to expand the Champions League and introduce the “Swiss model” of competition, only then apparently to walk out on his own project in favour of the Super League and announce his resignation from the ECA.

Agnelli’s ECA role was quickly filled by the president of Paris Saint-Germain, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, one of two clubs (the other being Bayern Munich) whose reluctance to join the ESL project had first left it in trouble. The ECA says it remains fully supportive of Uefa’s Champions League reforms and committed to further reforms “in the open and transparent interests of all, not the few”.

The three remaining Super League hold-outs appear to be further estranged than ever. They say the Super League project is not dead and are pursuing legal action against Uefa. It is understood the clubs have not applied to rejoin the ECA and any application would not be welcomed without a change of approach.

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