Barcelona, Madrid and Juventus at risk of Champions League ban over ESL plot

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, the three remaining members of the European Super League, could be banned from the Champions League and Uefa’s other club competitions over their involvement in the breakaway scheme.

The three clubs will be the subject of a Uefa investigation to confirm whether there was a “violation of Uefa’s legal framework” in their plans to launch a rival competition to the Champions League.

Although the full terms of the investigation are yet to be published, they are likely to focus on central statutes that member clubs are expected to abide by. One such statute, entitled “Prohibited Relations”, says that “no combinations or alliances between Uefa Member Associations or between leagues or clubs affiliated, directly or indirectly, to different Uefa Member Associations may be formed without the permission of Uefa”.

The range of possible punishments extends from fines and the withholding of revenues to the withdrawal of a title. One option would be a ban from European competition, similar to the two-year exclusion levied on Manchester City last year for a breach of financial fair play regulations. City’s ban was overturned on appeal at the court of arbitration for sport and it would be expected that the three clubs would pursue a similar path in the event they are found in breach by Uefa’s ethics and disciplinary inspectors.

Uefa had initially offered breakaway clubs a chance to re-enter the fold following the collapse of the ESL, with nine of the 12 signing a contrite “Club Commitment Declaration” with the governing body last week.

The president of Uefa, Alexander Ceferin, in welcoming that agreement promised that he would “deal with” the remaining hold-outs. Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus replied this weekend by reasserting their commitment to the ESL project and bemoaning “unacceptable and ongoing pressures and threats” from Uefa.

No timeframe has been set by Uefa for the investigation, with recent inquiries varying greatly in length. In a statement, Uefa said: “Uefa ethics and disciplinary inspectors have today been appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding a potential violation of Uefa’s legal framework by Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona and Juventus FC in connection with the so-called ‘Super League’ project.”