Investors with links to Madrid, Barça promoting Super League

MADRID (AP) — A management company whose co-owner has links to Real Madrid and Barcelona is in charge of promoting a relaunch of the failed Super League venture.

Madrid-based A22 Sports Management is part of a partnership between investors John Hahn and Anas Laghrari, who has worked with the two Spanish clubs on other recent projects.

The French-Moroccan Laghrari was involved through financial firm Key Capital Partners with Madrid’s stadium management deal for the revamped Santiago Bernabéu, and also participated in some recent negotiations to help financially struggling Barcelona.

They also participated in projects with clubs other than Barcelona and Madrid.

Hahn worked for two decades in a U.S. private equity firm based in London before leaving to join the Super League project.

A22 last week hired a German former television boss as its chief executive, and the company is promising a broad dialogue with soccer stakeholders to promote an open Super League based on sporting merits, contrary to the original plan that quickly folded last year.

The new push comes after the initial project collapsed within 48 hours amid a fierce backlash from UEFA, fans and lawmakers, who said the elitist format of the original Super League would hurt smaller clubs.

New CEO Bernd Reichart took over the job at A22 with the responsibility of initiating “an active and extended dialogue with a comprehensive group of football stakeholders including clubs, players, coaches, fans, media and policy makers,” according to A22.

A22 calls itself a “sports development company” that is currently “actively working with a number of leading football clubs to develop new concepts and ideas for European club competitions.”

It said its objective is “to achieve the full potential of pan-European club football while at the same time addressing the many important issues facing the sport.”

“The current situation in European club football is characterized by challenges, which will not resolve themselves on their own,” said Reichart, who worked in commercial rights in the sports industry with the Sportfive agency and was CEO of German commercial broadcaster RTL from 2019 through 2021.

A22 is a different entity from the Super League company originally created by several founding clubs, including Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, which are yet to abandon the project.

The three holdout clubs and A22 await a European Court of Justice ruling in their challenge to the alleged monopoly control they say Champions League organizer UEFA has over international competitions.

The European court in Luxembourg set a Dec. 15 target to give a non-binding opinion on the Super League case that was heard by 15 judges over two days in July. The full ruling is due next year.

Regardless of the outcome, A22 acknowledged that the initial plan for the Super League needed to change and that the revamped project will likely involve more clubs from more countries in a multi-tier competition with promotion and relegation.

A22 has reached out to UEFA, which said it is “always open to constructive dialogue and, therefore, will consider the request for a meeting in due course.”

A22 said its funding comes directly through Hahn and Laghrari. It did not provide a timetable for specific next steps in the promotion of the Super League, though Reichart said a new league with no permanent membership could be up and running by the 2024-25 season.

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AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar contributed to this report.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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