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The European Super League (ESL) is trying to stage a comeback. On Thursday, a ruling from the European Court of Justice said FIFA and UEFA could not ban a breakaway league from forming based on the rules both governing bodies cited, creating an entryway for the ESL to re-emerge with a brand-new structure. The ruling has freshened the conflict between European soccer's power players and those who are attempting to create a new order of operations and has now likely set up a lengthy back-and-forth to settle the future of the club game in Europe.

Here's a timeline of the ESL story.

Afternoon of April 18, 2021
As reports began to circulate that an official announcement of the competition could arrive later in the day, reports also came out saying that several of the big English clubs were preparing an announcement explaining their intention to join, with the project led by Real Madrid boss Florentino Perez. 

Then, late into the night in England, the announcement came from websites of the clubs involved.

With that starting the fire, the topic for many went from a pipeline nightmare to an actual nightmare. Here we were with some of the world's biggest clubs joining a Super League with, quite frankly, clubs that haven't been all that super.

Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City have zero Champions League titles, and Spurs haven't won the league since 1961, with their last trophy coming in 2008. 

With many American owners backing the project, the future stability of the sport was in question and on the line.

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Will big boys Bayern Munich join?

Morning of April 19, 2021: With the Super League set to be between 20 teams, with 12 teams committed, questions began to come up as to who would be the other clubs to join? The most noticeable missing was Bayern Munich, the reigning Champions League winners and one of the biggest, best clubs in history.

The Bavarians, showing a spine and respecting in the integrity and history of the game, firmly rejected their invite.

FC Bayern München has a clear stance on the issue of the Super League. "Our members and fans reject a Super League," said president Herbert Hainer. "As FC Bayern, it is our wish and our aim that European clubs live the wonderful and emotional competition that is the Champions League, and develop it together with UEFA. FC Bayern says no to the Super League."

The uproar picks up big time

Morning of April 19, 2021: Fans increase their displays of disapproval at the stadiums of involved clubs just as two key figures of the European Club Association quit in Juventus president Andrea Agnelli and Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. 

UEFA threatens 

Afternoon of April 19, 2021: UEFA boss Aleksander Ceferin firmly condemns the Super League, saying the participating clubs would be kicked out of the competitions, while also saying that players could be banned from participating in World Cups and Euros. 

Leeds earn fans all over

Evening of April 19, 2021: Since the announcement, the first team in action were Liverpool. The Reds went to Elland Road to take on Leeds United and were "kindly" welcomed with the hosts wearing shirts that read "Football is for the fans."

Leeds scored late to earn a 1-1 draw that felt like a win for all those against the Super League. 

The fans get Chelsea-Brighton delayed

Afternoon of April 20, 2021: Chelsea were prepared to face Brighton at home in Premier League play, but the match was delayed due to the amount of fans preventing the buses of the teams to enter the grounds. Chants began as the Blues' supporters were aiming to help save the sport, concerned with the consequences of their team joining the Super League. 

Cech's appearance

Afternoon of April 20, 2021: Chelsea's legendary goalkeeper Petr Cech comes out to pleased with the fans to allow the teams in:

Beginning buzz about Chelsea dropping out

Afternoon of April 20, 2021: Reports across England began to circulate that clubs were preparing to pull out. It was first reported that Chelsea were preparing documentation to withdraw, which led fans to began chanting "champions" in Spanish:

The first domino to fall

Afternoon of April 20, 2021: Manchester City become the first club to officially announce they are pulling out of the proposed Super League:

Other clubs then followed, including all of the English ones.


Night of April 20, 2021 :The Super League suspends their current plans for the competition to revisit what their next steps will be after fans, players, managers and more protested the creation and implementation of the competition.

Since the news of it being suspended, more clubs have officially withdrawn, including both Inter Milan and AC Milan. 

The fallout

April 21, 2021: Clubs have also began to apologize for their involvement, including Liverpool's owner John Henry and Manchester United's Joel Glazer.

Here's Henry's message:

Now more clubs are forced to apologize in an attempt to save face and limit more brand damage than they already have caused. 

In the end, what a crazy of couple days, both of which belong in the review mirror with the entirety of 2020 or in the trash bin with all plans for a Super League that threatened the very elite existence of the world's most popular sport.

Comeback would be opposed

Nov. 1, 2022: A22 Sports Management still hope to revive the European Super League (ESL), but even with the firm support of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, it is a tricky task.

New chief executive Bernd Reichart has already written to UEFA president Ceferin seeking immediate dialogue and is cautiously optimistic Europe's top clubs will back a new format that purportedly sees them play meaningful games more often.

New format proposed

Feb 9, 2023: A revised ESL would be for 80 clubs a year across several divisions, its chief executive said.  A22 Sports Management promoted a revision of the plans that collapsed in 2021 following the withdrawal of six Premier League sides and says that this time no members would be afforded a permanent seat at the table of a competition that would provide clubs with a guaranteed minimum of 14 matches per season.

ESL officially attempts comeback

Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023: The European Court of Justice ruled that FIFA and UEFA cannot ban a breakaway league using the rules the governing bodies cried at the time. A22 Sports Management, the company organizing the ESL, used the occasion to re-emerge with a new structure that would see 64 teams compete in a three-tier system. The new ESL format did not necessarily tease a closed system, as was the original desire from Europe's top clubs when the breakaway competition originally announced itself.

Condemnation was swift across Europe, while UEFA and its allies treated the court ruling not as a pathway for the ESL to truly form but one that merely provided guidelines for the sport's current power players to create rules that will once and for all end the breakaway league's momentum. UEFA president Alexander Ceferin also openly mocked the court ruling soon after it was delivered.

"We will not try to stop them," he said, per the BBC. "They can create whatever they want. I hope that they start their fantastic competition as soon as possible with two clubs. I hope they know what they are doing, which I'm not so sure about … Football is not for sale. We can show that many times."