The European Court will decide whether the Super League is viable. GETTY IMAGES

Proponents of a European competition outside UEFA could face financial and sporting sanctions, including a ban from traditional tournaments. The redistribution of revenue and the curbing of an alleged monopoly by the governing body are the driving forces behind the initiative, which goes before judges at the European Court of Justice on Thursday. 

European football is waiting for the judges to rule on the viability of the Super League. UEFA is so dependent on the ruling that it has not been in this position since the 1990 Bosman case, which completely changed the way the sport is run. Two years ago, twelve of the continent's most powerful clubs banded together to create a competition called the Super League, outside the confines of UEFA.

This led to a split between the two sides. Since then, the whole affair has been put on hold pending legal clarification and, of course, the imposition of whatever disciplinary measures the judges deem appropriate. The amount of money the rebellious clubs will have to pay has not been revealed, but it is clear that the situation is worrying, and it is precisely this that has led to nine of the twelve teams threatening the very existence of the Super League, a project that could be worth more than €10 billion.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are the only two teams left in the Superliga. GETTY IMAGES
Barcelona and Real Madrid are the only two teams left in the Superliga. GETTY IMAGES

At the moment, only Spanish clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid remain, with Juventus pulling out this year.  
Whatever happens, and although the clubs have withdrawn from the front line pending the outcome of the court case, the idea of creating a highly lucrative competition outside UEFA's domain is still alive. Those behind this supranational project want to end what they see as UEFA's monopoly.

There are several outstanding legal issues that the court's ruling on Thursday 21 December could resolve. The first is whether UEFA is "abusing a dominant position", as a judge in Madrid said two years ago. In the battle to see who is right, an ECJ lawyer argued a year ago that UEFA and FIFA rules were "compatible" with EU competition law. 

There is also the question of whether the teams that continue to advocate such a super league should face disciplinary action for trying to break away from the governing body. Part of the reason for the powerful teams' desire to leave the UEFA umbrella is that they feel the body does not redistribute wealth in a balanced way, taking much of the revenue without it reaching the clubs and benefiting only a powerful few. UEFA has announced that 10 per cent of its revenue will go to clubs that do not make it past the group stage, in theory to the small clubs. But the big clubs want more.

The new project would be worth more than 10 billion euros. GETTY IMAGES
The new project would be worth more than 10 billion euros. GETTY IMAGES

The sanctions could be financial or sporting, preventing players in alternative leagues from playing in traditional leagues or even in UEFA and FIFA international tournaments, which legal experts say would be excessive.

There is talk that it could end in a rather ambiguous decision. The two teams that have held out without jumping ship, Barcelona and Real Madrid, could be the biggest beneficiaries if they manage to push the project through, as they are likely to be guaranteed a share to keep them in.

They were the only ones not threatened by UEFA. The sums involved have not been disclosed, but the project would be worth between 10,000 and 15,000 million euros. The clubs with whom the project managers have spoken are also keeping quiet for the time being. Many of them are teams that are not at their best but would be winners, such as PSG or Anderlech, and could regain their lustre if the Super League were to go ahead.