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Investors linked to Madrid and Barça promote Superliga

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

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

The Franco-Moroccan Laghrari became involved through the financial firm Key Capital Partners with the management agreement for the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, recently remodeled by Madrid. He also participated in some recent negotiations to help Barcelona, ​​which is in financial trouble.

Both investors participated in projects with other clubs, in addition to Barcelona and Madrid.

Hahn worked for two decades at an American securities firm, operating out of London, before leaving to join the Super League project.

Last week, A22 hired a former television chief in Germany as its CEO. The company promises a broad dialogue with different parties in football, in order to promote an open Super League based on sporting merits, something that would contrast with the original plan that foundered last year.

That collapse occurred 48 hours after the bill was unveiled, amid backlash from UEFA, fans and lawmakers, who agreed the original Super League’s elitist format would hurt smaller clubs.

The new CEO Bernd Reichart took the reins of A22 with the responsibility of initiating “an active and extended dialogue with a wide group of participants in football, including clubs, players, coaches, fans, journalists and policy makers”, of agreement with the organization.

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

The company adds that its goal is “to realize the full potential of pan-European football while simultaneously addressing the many important issues facing the sport.”

“The current situation in European club football is characterized by challenges that will not resolve themselves,” said Reichert, who worked on commercial rights within the sports industry with the Sportfive agency and was CEO of the German media company commercial, from 2019 to 2021.

A22 is a separate entity from the company originally created to develop the Superliga on behalf of several founding clubs, including Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, who have not yet abandoned the project.

The three clubs and A22 await a ruling from the European Court of Justice to challenge the monopolistic control attributed to UEFA, as the organizer of the Champions League, over international competitions.

The court in Luxembourg has set a December 15 deadline for issuing a non-binding opinion in the Super League case that was heard by 15 judges over two days in July.

The ruling in detail would emerge next year.

Regardless of the outcome, A22 recognized that the Super League’s initial plan needs to change, and that the restructured project could involve more clubs from a greater number of countries, in a competition with various categories, promotion and relegation.

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

The company indicates that its funding comes directly from Hahn and Laghrari. He has not given a timeline of his next steps in Super League promotion, although Reichart has commented that a new league without permanent membership could be underway by the 2024-25 football year.

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AP reporter Graham Dunbar contributed to this report.

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