Shares in Juventus dropped 12% in Milan on Wednesday, bringing the stock below its closing price on Friday, the final trading session before the shock announcement of the new league. Manchester United’s stock, which trades in New York, dropped more than 6% on Tuesday and was heading even lower in premarket trading.
In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli said the project couldn’t continue with just six of the original 12 founding clubs remaining.
“I remain convinced of the beauty of that project, of the value that it would have developed to the pyramid, of the creation of the best competition in the world, but evidently no … I don’t think that project is now still up and running.”
Investors were already bailing out of shares in the two breakaway clubs that are publicly traded.
The founding clubs were to be permanent members of the Super League, a structure that resembled Major League Baseball or the National Football League and one that promised eye-popping paydays from media rights and merchandising.
But it ran counter to the traditions of European football, with its roots in industrial working class neighborhoods, where even the poorest clubs are promoted to top leagues if they win and no amount of money can protect rich teams from relegation if they lose.
Six English clubs — Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur — initially said they would join the league, along with AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus from Italy and Spanish clubs Atlético Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid. The league planned to add three more permanent clubs, while five more would qualify annually based on performance.
By seeking to wall themselves off from competition, the founding clubs were accused of orchestrating a massive cash grab that would harm smaller competitors, and potentially doom the elite Champions League, which is contested by top-division clubs from across Europe.
The biographies of the club owners reinforced the notion that money was the driving force behind the decision to start the league.
American billionaire John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox, is at the helm of Liverpool. Another American billionaire, Stan Kroenke, controls Arsenal and US sports franchises including the LA Rams and the Denver Nuggets. Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich owns Chelsea and Emirati royal Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan owns Manchester City.
Chinese investors are behind Inter Milan, and US billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott Management pulls the strings at local rival AC Milan. Juventus’ long time owners are the Agnelli family, which made their money from ventures including carmaker Fiat.
The Glazer family, which also owns Tampa Bay Buccaneers, runs Manchester United. Protesting fans made their feelings about the American bosses known on Monday, holding a banner outside the club’s stadium that said: “Created by the poor, stolen by the rich.”
“We believe part of the drama and beauty of European football comes from the ability of any club to achieve success through their performance of the pitch,” Amazon Prime Video said in a statement.