Spanish court annuls sanctions for Super League clubs

MADRID (AP) — A Spanish judge again acted to protect the clubs involved in the plan to create a European Super League when he issued a preliminary ruling on Thursday to annul the sanctions imposed on them by UEFA.

The ruling by the mercantile court in Madrid, made on request by the Super League, declared null a battery of disciplinary measures that nine of the 12 clubs behind the Super League agreed to in May after a backlash against the proposed league.

Judge Manuel Ruiz de Lara ordered UEFA to rescind the agreement that the nine clubs — Atlético Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham — signed to give up 5% of revenue for one season playing in Europe.

The court order also voided the combined payment of 15 million euros ($17.8 million) by the nine clubs for what UEFA called a “gesture of goodwill,” as well as the pledge made by the nine that they would accept a fine of 100 million euros ($118 million) if they seek again to play in an unauthorized competition.

The judge specifically ordered the English and Italian leagues to not take action against the clubs.

As for the three remaining clubs not to abandon the Super League plan — Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus — the judge reminded UEFA of a previous order he had issued to not go through with the possible sanction of banning them from competitions.

In April, Ruiz de Lara issued a stay on actions taken against the Super League clubs. It said FIFA, UEFA and its members — including federations, clubs and domestic leagues — couldn’t threaten or sanction players and teams in the new competition. He said that punishments could violate free competition laws.

In June, UEFA put on hold its case against the three rebel clubs after Ruiz de Lara referred their case to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, which could weigh in if UEFA is breaching competition laws.

In Thursday’s ruling, Ruiz de Lara said that “the hidden sanctions imposed on certain founding members of the Super League, under the euphemism of the ‘agreement’ by the clubs … represents a clear failure to comply” with his initial order given in April not to punish the clubs.

Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez was to be the first chairman of the breakaway competition that would directly compete with UEFA’s Champions League.

The proposed league — a largely closed midweek competition — collapsed within days of its April unveiling after being abandoned by the six English clubs amid a backlash from their supporters and warnings from the British government that legislation could be introduced to thwart it.

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