Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu led Super League talks for several years during his time with the club, Goal can reveal, with the Blaugrana joining Juventus, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Arsenal as leading teams in a five-year push to form the new competition.
The original discussions of a potential Super League began to take shape during the 2015-16 season, with those discussions eventually leading the way to Sunday’s announcement that 12 clubs had signed on to form a new breakaway tournament.
However, those plans have come crashing down as teams have withdrawn amid widespread criticism from fans and players alike.
The foundations of a Super League
Goal has learned discussions originally began during the 2015-16 campaign, with several of football’s elite clubs mulling over the potential of a competition featuring the top teams in the world.
However, those discussions didn’t get too far, with the European Clubs Association (ECA) and UEFA calming those clubs before those talks became anything more concrete.
Bartomeu though pushed for the Super League to become a reality, joining up with Andrea Agnelli, president of Juventus and president of the ECA, to define the foundations of potential new competition.
They were soon joined by Florentino Perez at Real Madrid, as well as Manchester United and Arsenal. At the time UEFA and the ECA signed a new deal defining the Champions League’s format until 2021.
In 2018, after seeing UEFA’s distribution of money, the Super League proposal accelerated with Barcelona as one of the key leaders. At that time, Bartomeu was the only board member familiar with the plan and he, along with two executives, secretly worked to make it a reality.
Bartomeu and the others involved signed a confidentiality agreement to prevent leaks as the competition’s format was defined, including how it would work alongside domestic leagues and how income would be obtained and distributed among the clubs involved.
At Real Madrid, Perez was also fully invested and was willing to do whatever it took to push the plan through.
Once the plan was finalised in 2020, Bartomeu was prepared to share it with the board of directors, even as his own reign collapsed around him. The president explained the project to the board, which approved the signing of a document of intentions that, due to the confidentiality agreement, they could not see.
At the time, they trusted Bartomeu and, on the day of his resignation, he unveiled the plan, which did not commit the club to anything and had to still be transformed into a binding contract.
Bartomeu’s replacement, Joan Laporta, signed the contract on Saturday after seeing the amount of money that would come into the club. Still, the document was still not complete, as there were still matters to decide, such as money distribution.
That distribution would not be equal between the 12 clubs involved, but it was not written down and was never fully decided upon.
Barcelona, despite the events of the last few days, still believe in the Super League.
“We believe that it is a very attractive sporting competition that provides more financial resources and also because we maintain the domestic leagues,” the club told Goal.
Now, following the withdrawal of almost all the founder teams, Barca remain convinced that there will be negotiations with UEFA to try and reach a new agreement, which is why they have yet to make an official public statement.