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Atlético announced as European Super League founding club

The rojiblancos are taking part in a radical reimagining of European football.

Atletico de Madrid v SD Eibar - La Liga Santander Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid have been confirmed as one of the new Super League’s 12 founding members.

Though the club itself did not issue a statement on Sunday night, a separate release published on the nascent competition’s website — excerpted below — has set off shockwaves around the football world.

AC Milan, Arsenal FC, Atlético de Madrid, Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona, FC Internazionale Milano, Juventus FC, Liverpool FC, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid CF and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as Founding Clubs. It is anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable.

“Going forward, the Founding Clubs look forward to holding discussions with UEFA and FIFA to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcomes for the new League and for football as a whole.”

Atlético went on to publish a copied-and-pasted press release on Monday afternoon.

Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez will double as the Super League’s chairman — the tournament is effectively Pérez’s brainchild and a long-term personal goal, even as his club rang up European Cup after European Cup in the UEFA Champions League. Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli and Manchester United co-owner Joel Glazer will be Pérez’s right-hand men as competition co-chairs.

Speculation about what could happen next is rife, while concrete details are somewhat scarce as this chaotic situation unfolds. We know the money involved in this venture is eye-watering — the Super League’s founding clubs are set to share €3.5 billion to fortify and rebuild amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Money like this is undoubtedly attractive, and certainly a prime reason Atlético decided to get involved in the Super League.

Getafe v Atletico Madrid - La Liga Santander
Enrique Cerezo (right) speaks with Getafe president Ángel Torres.
Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

The team’s success under Diego Simeone — eight consecutive top-three finishes in LaLiga alongside seven trophies since 2012 — has raised the club’s global profile. The recently-updated Forbes rich list has Atlético valued at $1 billion for the first time. For a club staring down huge debts, the JPMorgan Chase-bankrolled Super League represents a way forward to future viability for chief executive Miguel Ángel Gil Marín and president Enrique Cerezo.

But the ramifications on and off the pitch are yet to be determined fully. Those could be...well, significant, perhaps beyond what Cerezo and Gil Marín are willing to acknowledge.

We don’t know for certain when the Super League will begin play (though we do know the planned format). We don’t know whether UEFA will call Pérez et al.’s bluff — or if it’s all posturing, as the biggest teams aim for yet more concessions from a governing body that has already pandered to them with alarming frequency in recent years. UEFA was set to unveil a new Champions League format Monday — perhaps that’s shelved for the time being, and negotiations will continue.

Likewise, it’s unknown whether individual leagues and national associations actually can bar Super League participants from competing domestically. LaLiga president Javier Tebas is pretty steamed, and he’s not alone.

Proposals in this vein are and have been extremely unpopular whenever mooted — and aside from the inevitably-angry supporter reactions, it will be fascinating to see how the players themselves respond to the new Super League. UEFA and even FIFA have dangled the idea that players will be disqualified from suiting up for their national teams if they participate in the new competition.

For the moment, with so much still under review, Diego Simeone doesn’t seem too bothered with a future Super League.

“I am a coach, and I am prepared to train with my players wherever I’m told,” he said after Atlético’s 5-0 win over Eibar on Sunday. “I have no doubt that the club will decide what is best for us.”


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