"It's hard to pick a winner, Gary."
Law firms acting for the clubs who ran towards, and then away from, the abortive Super League are being understandably coy about their involvement in the debacle.
The plan involved 12 football clubs from England, Spain and Italy forming a breakaway competition, but although - and perhaps because - the financial basis was worked out in secret, the PR aspect went untended. It meant the enterprise landed like Cantona's boot to the stunned face of fandom when it was unveiled on Sunday evening.
After an angry backlash and accusations of greed run rampant, Manchester City and Chelsea withdrew within hours, followed by Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham on Tuesday, and Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan on Wednesday.
As its architects accepted the dream was on life support, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin called Andrea Agnelli, the Juventus chairman, a "snake and a liar" for his role in the clandestine plot. Billionaire Agnelli replied, accurately, "I don't think our industry is a particularly sincere, trustworthy or reliable one in general".
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Although law firms are usually delighted to be able to tout fashionable clients, on this occasion very few were willing to voice support for their team.
Cleary Gottlieb was understood to be acting for Juve, but the firm declined to comment. As did Freshfields and Allen & Overy, which between them were reported to have been acting for all six British clubs. Baker McKenzie, at least, showed some guts and confirmed that its Spanish office had acted for Barcelona.
With the plan to help a struggling cabal of super-rich clubs now in tatters, the fallout may create a new Super League of suing.
Firms acting for non-Super League clubs could see new work if their clients make claims against the dirty dozen, if punitive measures are imposed on all clubs to prevent another coup attempt.
The firms acting for Super League clubs may also get new instructions to deal with any attempts by the Premier League or Uefa to punish them, with pundits calling for points to be docked, fines to be levied, and multi-year Champions League bans to be imposed.
There are also suggestions that the breakaway Spanish Super League clubs may take action against their UK companions who broke away a second time, for breaches of the 23-year contracts which club owners are understood to have signed.
Graham Shear, partner and co-leader of the disputes practice at BCLP, which is acting for lenders into the European Leagues and especially the English Premier League and LaLiga, told RollOnFriday, "We now know that soccer club loyalties can be set aside if the stakes are emotional enough".
But, he said, "European football fans have been united as with one voice they shouted 'no, non, never' to the prospect of their beloved clubs becoming a franchise holding member of the European Super League. The demise of the European Super League took little more than 50 hours after it was revealed to the world. It was like the A-list cast of the latest blockbuster dressed up for the opening only for the audience to walk out in disgust as the opening titles rolled. Some very, very smart people misread the room and left empty handed and rather red faced”.
Shear explained that the media focus on the owners of the six English clubs, especially the three American owners, "was predictable in light of the ESL seeking to deploy a US style franchise system".
"But we now understand that paradoxically the ESL plan was actually originated by the President of Real Madrid, a Spanish club owned collectively by the fans of the club”.
Shear said the impact of the pandemic on the balance sheets of Europe's professional football clubs in Europe reflected the impact on business generally, and that, consequently, the clubs now needed to replenish their working capital with debt or equity.
"I believe the prospect of a 23 year low cost loan of €300m was enough to cloud judgement", he said. "Perhaps it was 'group think' or just naivety about the strength of public opinion, either way the working capital challenge remains”. Super League 0 Fans 1, for now.