Much has been made of the lack of formal selection process for the scrapped ESL, with fans outraged by the inclusion of clubs based on wealth as opposed to success on the pitch. Here we take a moment to review the credentials of five of the wealthiest and most decorated teams across Europe.
Real Madrid: ‘Los Blancos’ are the most successful club in European football history, with a record 13 European trophies and 34 La Liga titles. Their success on the pitch has generated a huge global following and enormous annual revenues of €757.3 million (2019), which has enabled them to finance some of the biggest player transfers of all-time, including superstar ‘Galacticos’ Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Kaka. The clubs president Florentino Perez is seen by many as the driving force behind the failed plans for the breakaway ESL and remains convinced that the proposals will ‘save football’.
Barcelona: Currently the world’s richest football team (worth $4.06 billion) and home of arguably the world’s best player- Lionel Messi. Barcelona are European and Spanish footballing royalty with a record 72 trophies, including 5 European cups and 26 La Liga titles. The Catalan giants regularly attract the finest talent from around the globe and were involved in the most expensive player trade of all-time when they sold Brazilian star Neymar to PSG for €222 million. Alongside Real Madrid and Juventus, they seem committed to plans for an elite ESL and the club’s chairman Juan Laporta said the proposals were ‘completely necessary’.
Manchester United: The famous ‘Red Devils’ are the most successful club in English football with 66 domestic and European trophies, including 20 first division/premier league titles and are currently the fourth wealthiest team in Europe. The team’s historic success and popularity of former players including David Beckham, Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo have turned them into a huge global brand with millions of followers worldwide. Their inclusion in the ESL has exacerbated tensions between the fan-base and the Glazer family who own the club, prompting Joel Glazer to make a public apology.
Liverpool: The current premier league champions and six-time winners of the European Cup (most recently in 2019), the Reds sit one trophy behind fierce rivals Manchester United as the most decorated team in England. The Merseyside club were involved in arguably one of the greatest European finals of all time when they overcame a halftime 3-0 deficit to heroically beat AC Milan on penalties in 2005. Owned by the Fenway Sports group (FSG) the club’s involvement in the ESL has been criticised by fans and pundits alike and prompted a public apology by owner John Henry.
Juventus: Managed by former player and Italian legend Andrea Pirlo, Juventus (Juve) are the most successful Italian team of the 20th century. Despite winning the European cup only once (back in 1996) they have won nine Serie A titles back-to-back and have 36 topflight titles. Juve hold the contract of 4-time Ballon d’or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, the most prolific goal scorer in Champions League history and alongside Messi, touted by many as the greatest player of the 21st century. The Turin giants are still committed to the formation of a European Super League, with the club releasing a statement saying they are ‘convinced of the soundness of the project’.