What the European Super League crash means for JP Morgan

The European Super League is dead on arrival but the impact of the aborted project will still leave a mark on those involved.

No balls will likely ever be kicked under the football competition’s banner but attempts to get the breakaway event up and running will still leave a mountain of paperwork to sift through, questions about the judgement of those involved, and the threat of sanctions for many of the clubs that took part.

The dismantling of the corporate infrastructure already assembled is likely to be a fractious and messy affair.

Executives are already paying the price for the project’s spectacular failure, as illustrated by the departure of Ed Woodward at Manchester United (MANU).

The ESL is also having an impact on the money men behind it: JP Morgan (JPM).

JP Morgan was lined up to be the main financier of the Super League, promising to write a 23-year loan worth over €3bn (£2.6bn, $3.6bn) to fund the creation of the competition.

Back of the envelope calculations suggest the blockbuster deal would have netted the bank around £2m a week over the life of the loan. Experts said it would have been one of the biggest sports financing deals in history.

Although financing was arranged, insigts reveal no money actually left the bank — meaning the League’s collapse will not have any impact on the bank’s top or bottom lines.

Unlike Manchester United or (JUVE.MI), JP Morgan’s share price has been largely unmoved by the Super League’s swift rise and fall.

While there won’t be a financial impact, the incident leaves reputational stain on JP Morgan. The bank has been criticised in the British press for its role in the project, with commentators saying the deal did not align with chief executive Jamie Dimon’s promise to make JP Morgan a more community-focused bank.

This week Standard Ethics, a European company that rates companies based on their governance and sustainability, downgraded its rating of the bank because of its involvement with the Super League.

Standard Ethics said JP Morgan and the clubs involved in the ESL were “contrary to Sustainability best practices” because they did not “take into account the interests of the stakeholders”. The ratings agency cited opposite from fans, politicians, players, and other clubs.

The timing is awkward for JP Morgan, which is planning to launch a new consumer-focused bank in Britain later this year. Half the clubs involved in the Super League were British and fans roundly rejected the move.

The new retail bank will operate under the Chase brand in the UK, which should help to soften the blow, and JP Morgan will be hoping that the worst of the criticism will have passed by the time the project officially launches.

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