European soccer club shares jump after Super League announcement

By Giancarlo Navach and Danilo Masoni

MILAN (Reuters) – Shares in Italian soccer club Juventus and England’s Manchester United jumped on Monday after they and 10 other top European clubs announced the formation of a breakaway Super League.

Juventus’ share price surged over 12% as shareholders welcomed the move that sets up a rival to UEFA’s established Champions League, Europe’s most prestigious club competition, and sparks a bitter battle for the sport’s lucrative revenues.

Shares in England’s Manchester United rose 11% in thin pre-market trading ahead of the open of the New York Stock Exchange.

The announcement of the Super League on Sunday was condemned by football authorities across Europe and by political leaders including the French president and British prime minister.

As well as United, Premier League clubs Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have signed up to the plans.

From Spain, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are joining. AC Milan and Inter Milan make up the trio from Italy along with Juventus.

Under the proposal, the Super League said that they aimed to have 15 founding members and a 20-team league with five other clubs qualifying each season.

Those 15 clubs would be guaranteed a place — that could boost club revenues but critics say the move is driven solely by money and undermines the integrity of the sport.

Intesa Sanpaolo analysts estimate a Super League would fetch more in TV rights than the roughly 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) the Champions League earned per year in the seasons 2018-21, and would be split among just 20 clubs.

“Ticket sales, sponsorship and merchandising could benefit too, considering the quality of matches and the large audience of these clubs,” analysts at the Italian bank said.

The breakaway launch triggered a wave of disapproval. Football authorities have said participating clubs may be banned from domestic leagues and raised the possibility players would be stopped from competing for their country internationally.

Some analysts think the announcement may prove a ploy by the big clubs to extract more revenue from existing European club competitions.

“Whether it’s Super League or not, the signal is that the big clubs want to ‘renegotiate’ with UEFA the proceeds, so it’s definitely something that stirs the waters…,” said Angelo Meda, head of equities at Banor SIM in Milan.

“I doubt that they have moved like this and will give in, something will be granted.”

Shares in soccer clubs Ajax, Olympique Lyon AS Roma, which are not part of the Super League, were trading between flat and 1.3% lower.

Listed football clubs excluded from the Super League are not the only financial assets threatened by the shake out which could also hit broadcasters.

“The clear implication is a significant diminution of the value of the rights for the exiting UEFA Champions League which, presumably, would either be made entirely redundant or continue without the participation of some/most of the most important and valuable clubs”, Citi analysts wrote in a note.

France’s Vivendi, Spain’s Telefonica and Sweden’s Telia and Amazon and Comcast in the United States are among the listed companies holding Champions League distribution rights.

Juventus shares

($1 = 0.8317 euros)

(Writing by Tommy Reggiori Wilkes, additional reporting by Julien Ponthus; Editing by Thyagaraju Adinarayan and Alison Williams)

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