LONDON, April 21 (Reuters) – Rebel soccer clubs that joined a breakaway European Super League are facing break-up fees for ditching a binding agreement that threatened to overturn the hierarchy of the world’s most popular sport, two sources told Reuters.
The controversial project has yet to be called off despite most clubs deciding to walk away amid intense criticism from fans and politicians.
But those like Real Madrid which are still holding on to the plan may enforce break-up fees on those who left, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Break-up fees are part of the contractual agreement between the clubs,” one of the sources said.
“Since the club agreement has not collapsed yet, those who are pulling the plug will likely face consequences. Their departure would be consequence-free only if there was consensus on terminating the project,” he said.
The clubs declined to comment.
Often used in financial deals, including takeover agreements, a break-up or termination fee is required to compensate the prospective purchaser or the party spearheading a deal for the time and resources used to facilitate the transaction.
Reuters could not immediately establish the amount of the fees that the clubs could incur.
JPMorgan provided 3.5 billion euros ($4.21 billion)of financing for the Super League but its funding proposal hinges on the success of the club agreement, one of the sources said.
Twelve European clubs including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Manchester United and Liverpool entered a binding agreement to launch an elite competition on Apr. 18 only for six clubs to walk away less than 48 hours later.
Manchester City was the first club to back out of the venture, followed by Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.
Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli – one of the founders of the project – told Reuters on Wednesday that it was unlikely the plan would go ahead, blaming the involvement of politicians for the league’s downfall. ($1 = 0.8312 euros)
(Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia and Simon Evans; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)