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Quest Means Business
Reports Say Several Clubs Preparing To Withdraw From European Super League; U.S. Markets Fall As Travel Stocks Take Hit. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired April 20, 2021 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Good evening. I'm Richard Quest. We start tonight with breaking news and the new European Super League appears
to be falling apart before it's even lasted 24 hours and a match played.
A number of clubs including Chelsea and Manchester City are reportedly preparing to withdraw from the tournament. These pictures you're looking at
the moment from Chelsea is ground at Stamford Bridge. Fans have been gathering as the clubs takes on Brighton during this hour.
The plans for the breakaway league have been widely condemned. The English Premier League vowed to fight it after meeting with most of its clubs
Alex Thompson -- sorry, Alex Thomas, sorry, Alex. Alex Thomas is with me. I'm so -- I'm beside myself with -- what's your understanding of the
situation tonight? How many clubs are looking to get out?
ALEX THOMAS, CNN WORLD SPORT: Richard, I can understand why you're beside yourself. I am, too. I've been in this game for almost 30 years despite my
youthful looks, and I've never seen a chaotic day of football, as I've seen over the last 24 to 48 hours reminiscent of 2015 when I got up early for a
flight to Zurich for a scheduled FIFA Congress that went ballistic when on the orders of the U.S. Department of Justice, Swiss police went in and
arrested FIFA officials from their hotel.
This is even bigger than that though, because it was threatening to be the biggest disruptor in the most popular sport in the world that we've ever
seen, and it seems to me right now, and things are moving second by second as I speak that the Super League plans are in absolute tatters as I say
less than 48 hours after they were announced on Sunday night, very late European time even though it was going to affect European clubs, Richard,
specifically perhaps aimed at an American audience.
The three American-owned English Premier League clubs, the main instigators of this, alongside Real Madrid and Juventus. We know for sure that it seems
Chelsea and Manchester City are considering pulling out, but as I speak, it feels like a pack of cards is falling down.
Many respected journalists talking about other clubs and other leading officials resigning -- Richard.
QUEST: The thing is I'm finding difficult to understand here. They must have known there was going to be certainly criticism and arguably
widespread opposition. They've been putting this thing together. This wasn't put together on the back of an envelope. But they have been putting
this together for some time. Why would they -- why would they collapse at the first whiff of grapeshot?
THOMAS: It absolutely beats me. This has been years in the making, and in fact, the rumors of a super league go back 20 years or more. Before it was
used as a negotiating tactic to get a better deal out of UEFA, the European governing body that organizes the Champions League, one of the most popular
sports competitions because it pits the best in Europe against each other at club level.
But the instigator of this breakaway league wanted more than just that, they wanted to have places guaranteed in that competition every season, a
closed shop, a franchise system the way you see so successfully in U.S. pro sports, but it's just completely alien to how football has organically
evolved over more than a hundred years.
But having planned it so long and announced it with such a fanfare and a shock value on Sunday night specifically before UEFA announced their
revamped version of the Champions League by the way, so the timing was no coincidence.
You're right. It's incredible that it has gone so sour so quickly.
QUEST: I'm wondering whether or not some of the English clubs were affected and influenced by people like the Prime Minister, whom -- Boris Johnson who
made it clear that they would seek a competitive legislative solution. This afternoon he said that and you'll hear in a minute, they would go for
alleged -- in other words, they would outlaw it on competition grounds. Do you think that might have had an effect?
THOMAS: Yes, I think so. I think the biggest mistake they've made is not putting anyone from this proposal up in front of the media, except for
Florentino Perez, the Real Madrid President who is also going to be Chair of this new super league organization.
He spoke to Spanish TV on Monday night, but we've heard nothing from anybody else. So all the PR, all the social media outcry, all the newspaper
headlines, all the TV headlines have been from the opposition, global and European governing bodies, National Football Associations, the British
Prime Minister, the French President, a member of the British Royal Family, celebrities and former players and then crucially earlier on Tuesday,
current players, current managers.
I think we can actually take a listen to what the Manchester City Manager, Pep Guardiola said City, one of the teams that had been planning to break
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PEP GUARDIOLA, MANAGER, MANCHESTER CITY: The sport is not a sport when the relation between the effort and the success, the effort and reward doesn't
exist -- don't exist. So, it's not a sport.
So it's not a sport where the success is already guarantee. It is not a sport and it doesn't matter if you lose. That's why I said many times, I
want the best competition as strong as possible so especially the Premier League, and it is not hurt when one team fight, fight, fight arrive in the
top and after it cannot be qualified because the success is already guaranteed just for a few clubs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS: This is the best coach of his generation, admittedly, but he is still speaking out against his paymasters, that Manchester City saying, you
know, I just can't stand for this. It goes completely antithetical to everything that I stand for.
And then we see a sit down protest by Chelsea fans at the game taking place on Tuesday evening, even though they're not allowed inside the ground
because of COVID restrictions, Richard.
But the feelings were clear and fan power actually for a change seems to have won the day even though we know that normally, there are decreasing
amounts of value in terms of the total revenue of modern football clubs.
QUEST: Alex, thank you. Alex Thomas there with me now.
Chelsea is about to begin their Premier League game against Brighton. The kickoff has already been delayed. All the protests are going on outside the
Darren Lewis is an assistant editor at "The Daily Mirror" and a CNN sport contributor. Darren is on the phone from Stamford Bridge. Darren, is it
your understanding too, that this thing is falling apart?
DARREN LEWIS, CNN SPORT CONTRIBUTOR (via phone): It is indeed. Here at Chelsea, Richard, Alex outlined the drama surrounding today. It was capped
by just -- in a bit of hours, fans gathering outside Stamford Bridge Stadium here in southwest London, and making very clear their angry
opposition to the European Super League.
They chanted slogans aimed at the owner, at the clubs, at the architects of this plan and they made it very clear that they would not want any part of
And significantly, Richard, they were joined by supporters of other clubs, supporters who felt that the game was being stolen away from them. And
police allowed them to protest. They stood back. They were all very dignified, nothing appeared sinister about it.
My understanding is that the club looked at the protests, the owner looked at the project not just here today, but the global protests over the last
few days. And this feeling I'm being told is that the clubs felt that it would undermine everything it has tried to do in other areas like anti-
Semitism, like racism, the work that's been put in with homophobia and they felt that if they had put all that work in other areas, and then did a
scheme soaked in greed and avarice and self-interest, then they really would have undermined the work that they had done in other areas.
So they decided to become the first club to pull out, but I can't confirm - -
QUEST: Darren, how on earth though, I mean, the wit of intelligence of five minutes thought, bearing in mind the over -- what would have told them -- I
mean, the arguments aren't new about this super league. They've been around as Alex was saying, so how did they get their interpretation so wrong?
LEWIS: It's a really good question, and my feeling is that they underestimated the depth of feeling among the fans.
For a long time, fans have been taken for granted. Although, apparently we was found out just how much the game needs its supporters.
And fans, basically, they have been taken for a ride on so many occasions with higher ticket prices, with subscriptions for TV channels to watch
football, that they feel that enough is enough. They do not want the game stolen away from them by a cartel who wants to make money for themselves
and the clubs underestimated that.
And I think a few other clubs have come out and maybe looked at the pictures outside Stamford Bridge this evening and told themselves, they
don't want that outside the -- Emirates, the Etihad Stadium.
QUEST: So, Darren, what do you think? I mean, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico, Juventus, AC Milan. I mean, will they stay the course, do you
think and proceed? Or do you think they will also withdraw?
LEWIS: Well, my sources tell me that Manchester City are also pulling out and Real Madrid as well. I think this will fall apart, Richard. I think
that we are seeing with Chelsea pulling out, the beginning of the end.
It does beg the question you asked to Alex earlier, all of this time spent conceiving this plan, and after two days of opposition they have caved.
That tells you a lot about the people that we've criticized on World Sport when we've said, look, why have they left? Other people taking the bullets,
the players, the managers, the people in the frontline, while the owner takes five in the background. This one, to use your own words to describe
what they've done at the first sign of trouble.
QUEST: Darren, good to talk to you, sir. Thank you. Darren Lewis as always, helping us through this.
On the line now, Ramon Calderon, the former President of Real Madrid. Sir, you'll have heard tonight, Manchester City and Chelsea. Chelsea, certainly,
Manchester City likely are going to withdraw. Can you give me any information? What do you -- you're well, obviously still extremely well
connected. Is it likely that Real Madrid will also withdraw?
RAMON CALDERON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF REAL MADRID: I think this project has died today, with only two years old, and it is underway to become a
complete botch. And then I think, it deserves it because it was a project destined to kill football, I think mainly, at this time of we are living
where many clubs are struggling to survive due to the economic problem for the pandemic. What football needs is unity, solidarity and it is completely
the opposite what this project was trying to aim.
QUEST: Right. However, the grievances and problems and issues of the major clubs have been around for years. And if this collapses, that this doesn't
-- if the super league collapses, it doesn't address the issues that they want on the table.
So UEFA and FIFA and footballing is going to have to address the concerns of what they see as unfairness of the big clubs, from the big clubs.
CALDERON: I think the current competition, the Champions League, is a good format. And the problem is with Rummenigge, one of the smartest and most
knowledgeable football man I've known in this world is by a Munich President, he hit the bullseye saying the point is not to increase the
income, but to cut the expenses that they've been inflating during years with begging extraordinary in transfer fees and salaries.
Bear in mind that one club paid a few years ago for a player 220 million euros. So that's not possible. I think they have the commonsense, it must
come back and be realistic about what this sport can give to the clubs. And therefore, it will be possible to go on with the system in the way that it
is already enforced.
QUEST: Right. But on the bigger issue here. At the end of the day, the owners own the club. I mean, I know this isn't a really popular thing to
say, the fans don't own the club. The shareholders own the club, and the management run the club.
And if, though that management felt that this was a way forward for that club and those investments, then what does it say when you have Prime
Ministers threatening to legislate against it? And you're basically saying to the owners, you can't leave these, you cannot leave these organizations
and these competitions?
CALDERON: Well, they've said if you can, but you have to accept the consequences. You can have your own closed competition, but then, you are
not going to be able to play in the domestic competitions, and also players can be banned for playing in the national team.
I think that's something that the governing bodies can do. They've done it in their statement and UEFA has been more -- has been stronger than FIFA.
That's why I think maybe there have been talks before between those clubs in FIFA.
If you read the statement of FIFA, they said they talk about dialogue, about understanding, about looking for solutions, or maybe these wise
people who are behind this project. I've been talking before to FIFA, but finally it seems that nothing is going to be done.
Fortunately, it's my opinion, I think it's good for football to go on as we are and of course, there is a way to get more money. They are -- they must
try to find it.
QUEST: And to this point, though, the of those major successful clubs to have more opportunities to play against each other, this idea of the best
playing the best, continually and perpetually. How can you make that happen?
CALDERON: Well, it's happening now in the Champions League. It's a competition where all the big clubs of Europe are playing each other. But
apart from that, there are domestically where fans can see their clubs playing against the big clubs and also with the neighbors.
The rivalry is very important in football in any country, people are interested in in watching Barcelona against Bayern Munich or Real Madrid
against Barcelona. But of course, in the Champions League, Barcelona, Real Madrid are playing against Liverpool or against Bayern Munich. Let's say
that the competition that by the way is going to be reformed in the next two years, including more teams, I think it's fair, it is based on merit of
the teams and that's what is football, that's why this is sport.
It is not about money only. Money is important, but I think is much more important what the sport means.
QUEST: Good to see you, sir. Ramon, I appreciate your time tonight, obviously, fast moving, and I'm grateful as you've taken time to talk to
Shares in the major European football clubs are falling. Look at ManU, which is down six percent in New York trade, seven percent now. The market
still has got 45 minutes still to play and there you go, look at that.
It's exacerbating a fall that was already there after a major rally.
Alex is with me. Alex, I want to come back to this idea that the major clubs want to play each other. This is the argument that they can share the
revenues, that they can have this super league, they play each other on a more regular basis.
They play midweek, so arguably, they're not interfering with the domestic leagues as such. How will football come up with -- orthodox football --
come up with a solution that does allow the top 20 clubs to play each other more often?
THOMAS: People have been saying for years, Richard, that that idea is an inevitability. But after the shambles we've seen with this European super
league being announced and possibly dying on its feet as we speak in less than 48 to 72 hours, I think it'll be many years before it's raised again,
which actually is a shame because the idea is not a bad one.
We saw the way the share prices rose, that investors liked it. We know that the global digital fan, the ones from Africa, Asia that will never be able
to get physically to a ground in Europe love the idea of seeing these big teams play each other more often.
But these 12 clubs did not bring the others with them. There are so many stakeholders to convince. They didn't bother to take the time to really
make their argument privately. They were saying one thing to people who were colleagues and allies, the UEFA President, for goodness sake is
godfather to the daughter of Andrea Agnelli, the Juventus Chairman, who we are hearing might also be a casualty of tonight's events, in terms of his
position at Juventus, still to be confirmed.
And that's what happens when you mix business with friendships. And I think you know, you spoke of charismatic business people of your time, Richard,
they know how to get people on board. If unless you're absolutely watertight, you can't stab people in the back unless your plan is
absolutely foolproof, and they jump too soon without a consensus.
QUEST: And we're already seeing reports, not confirmed, so I won't mention names of some senior executives at various clubs are resigning as a result.
Alex, it doesn't -- look Alex, if you hear more, please come back to us. We'll take you as soon as you've got more facts and figures. Thank you very
much, Alex Thomas.
It's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight.
Travel stocks are getting pummeled as earnings season hits worries, in a moment.
QUEST: Another grim day for stocks, especially those related to aviation. Boeing is pulling the Dow down. It has announced that its CFO is leaving
and the shares are off more than four percent. That's where the Dow Jones completely is over.
Travel stocks are doing poorly. United is down nine percent after earnings last night. And that's pulling down the S&P 500. The NASDAQ is the worst of
all, it's been off more than one percent for most of the day.
Paul is with me, Paul La Monica. Paul, I'm looking at the United results. They missed. And the numbers aren't that good, but they weren't dreadful.
And you could arguably make a point and said they are in -- they were in a corridor of badness.
So why is the market being so harsh today?
PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes, I think, Richard that investors are looking ahead and they are all of a sudden very nervous again about the
rest of the world. The U.S. seems to be getting its act together with regards to vaccinations, and I think that there are hopes that the U.S.
economy will begin to reopen and that's good news for a variety of companies.
But as you pointed out, airlines are struggling, concerns about international travel. Boeing, obviously their woes continue. They also
tellingly did not decide to reinstate their dividend, which I think is disappointing to a lot of investors.
But earnings are still coming in broadly, pretty strongly for many of the companies in the Dow and the S&P 500. You look at IBM, Procter & Gamble,
J&J and Travelers, those are four Dow stocks that are bucking the trend today. They are higher because their results were actually pretty good.
QUEST: J&J of course, got a boost from the Europeans, on vaccines, and we will talk about that in a moment.
The State Department has advised travel advisory. Now, 80 percent of countries worldwide on the do-not-go-there, do-not-travel-to, I guess that
doesn't help. Even the cruise lines are down. This is -- there is a realization that the summer is not going to be as wonderful and beautiful
as people had perhaps hoped.
LA MONICA: Yes, I agree. I think that a lot of people are going to think twice about travel, even if it -- probably because they may not really be
allowed to go to many places. And keep in mind also, when you look at this market selloff today, it is not just Boeing airlines and the travel stocks.
You're starting to see a little bit of nervousness about tech stocks as many Big Techs are set to report earnings. IBM isn't really in that group
because they are more of a mature tech, and also the big banks. A lot of them had solid results last week, but they're pulling back because they've
So Goldman Sachs is leading the market lower today, or leading the Dow, and then getting back to the whole travel, Disney, obviously another company
whose stock is lower and we'll see interestingly, what happens with Netflix earnings after the close tonight. If Netflix has momentum that might be a
negative for Disney as well because there's a lot of hype about Disney+ and their streaming crowds right now.
QUEST: Paul La Monica there. You see the Dow 30. Thank you, Paul.
Well, one note on this whole question of travel. I've just seen this. American Airlines is recalling all pilots who they have recalled back to
flying status. And they say that this fall, they will start hiring pilots again.
So they are clearly anticipating a greater demand. We'll see how that affects bearing in mind what we see over the next few days.
In a moment, Johnson & Johnson, we talked about it resuming the rollout of its coronavirus vaccine in Europe. An important update on the packaging
label concerning those blood clots.
We'll talk about it after the break.