Maybe the Super League wasn’t so great of an idea after all. JPMorgan Chase is the latest to backtrack from the proposed soccer competition, issuing a statement Friday: “We clearly misjudged how this deal would be viewed by the wider football community and how it might impact them in the future.”
The bank had previously promised $4 billion to help launch the Super League, working with the 12 elite clubs who developed the idea before abandoning it Agatha Christie-style. “We will learn from this,” a bank spokesman said.
JPMorgan had planned to issue loans of approximately $350 million each to Super League members to fund improvements to stadiums and practice facilities, while clubs shore up finances in the wake of the pandemic. The money would have helped clubs like Manchester United, FC Barcelona and Juventus stretch their financial advantage over domestic competitors. The loans were to be secured against future TV rights revenues.
According to The New York Times, JPMorgan’s plan to fund the league “was vetted by its internal reputation committee, which assesses high-profile and potentially controversial assignments.” However, the arrangement drew criticism from politicians around Europe. On Wednesday, sustainability rating agency Standard Ethics downgraded JPMorgan from “adequate” to “non-compliant.” It wrote in a statement that “both the orientations shown by the football clubs involved in the project and those of the U.S. bank to be contrary to sustainability best practices.”
JPMorgan may end up getting off easier than the club owners behind the Super League, though. Facing calls to sell the team, Man U owner Joel Glazer wrote a letter to fans saying, “We failed to show enough respect for [soccer’s] deep-rooted traditions—promotion, relegation, the pyramid—and for that we are sorry.”