JP Morgan given lower sustainability rating after funding failed European Super League

Standard Ethics downgrades US bank from ‘adequate’ to ‘non-compliant’ in light of ESL backing

A sustainability rating agency has downgraded JP Morgan Chase after the US bank was revealed to be funding the failed European Super League (ESL) breakaway attempt.

Six of England’s richest clubs, including Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, were among the 12 European teams that hoped to gain permanent membership of a new tournament. However, the project collapsed in disarray this week after a backlash from fans to heads of government across the UK and Europe.

Standard Ethics, which grades corporations on their sustainability and is modelled on credit-ratings agencies, criticised the clubs as well as the bank.

“Standard Ethics judges both the orientations shown by the football clubs involved in the project and those of the US bank to be contrary to sustainability best practices, which are defined by the agency according to UN, OECD and European Union guidelines, and take into account the interests of the stakeholders,” it said.

It downgraded JP Morgan from an “adequate” rating to “non-compliant” in light of the ESL. Standard Ethics charges a fee to some companies to rate them based on environmental, social and governance performance, although JP Morgan’s rating was unsolicited.

The ESL plan was announced late on Sunday night after secret negotiations between clubs. The “founder” clubs – entitled to a permanent spot in what might have been a lucrative league – were Italy’s AC Milan, Internazionale Milan and Juventus, Spain’s Atlético de Madrid, Barcelona, and Real Madrid, as well as England’s Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

JP Morgan’s investment bankers reportedly committed €3.25bn (£2.8bn) to the ESL plan, mainly for a payment of between €200m and €300m to each team.

The league’s proponents argued that the new tournament would have strengthened football. A person with knowledge of the league plans said the deal would have included financing for grassroots sport and community projects. JP Morgan did not have control of the league’s strategy.

On Wednesday the ESL’s founder, the Juventus chair, Andrea Agnelli, said the competition could not go ahead after the withdrawal of multiple clubs.

Standard Ethics highlighted the “serious negative effects” of the plan flagged by critics including the UK’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and Italy’s prime minister, Mario Draghi. Many critics highlighted the lack of engagement with fans.

The agency’s previous assessment of JP Morgan highlighted concerns about its attitude to fair competition, following US antitrust fines and taxation.

JP Morgan’s boss, Jamie Dimon, wrote at great length of the importance of “community” to the company, in his annual letter to shareholders published earlier this month. He even made reference to the importance of local sports teams to communities.

“To a good company, its reputation is everything,” Dimon wrote. “That reputation is earned day in and day out with every interaction with customers and communities.

“When I hear examples of people doing something that is wrong because they could be paid more, it makes my blood boil – and I don’t want them working here.”

JP Morgan Chase declined to comment.

Contributor

Jasper Jolly

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
European Super League clubs promised €200m-€300m ‘welcome bonus’
JP Morgan commits €3.25bn to getting breakaway competition off the ground

Rupert Neate, Mark Sweney and Graeme Wearden

19, Apr, 2021 @3:34 PM

Article image
JP Morgan ‘misjudged’ football fans over European Super League
US bank’s involvement in ESL funding prompted sustainability downgrade for ethical performance

Jasper Jolly

23, Apr, 2021 @10:16 AM

Article image
How JP Morgan and Jamie Dimon scored a spectacular own goal on the ESL
The bank and its outspoken CEO are no stranger to controversy but the European Super League debacle may take the trophy

Rupert Neate

24, Apr, 2021 @7:00 AM

Article image
European Super League will pour €400m into grassroots football, says new chief
Anas Laghari claims elite competition will reignite love of game and end ‘madness’ of big money transfers

Rupert Neate and Peter Walker

20, Apr, 2021 @4:44 PM

Article image
European Super League faces scorn across continent
Juventus chief under fire as La Liga condemns move and French ministers criticise ‘VIP club’

Lorenzo Tondo in Palermo, Sam Jones in Madrid, Jon Henley in Paris and Kate Connolly in Berlin

19, Apr, 2021 @5:10 PM

Article image
The European Super League: what can Boris Johnson do about it?
Analysis: The PM has set himself against the elite club plans. Here are some ways they could be challenged

Peter Walker Political correspondent

19, Apr, 2021 @4:52 PM

Article image
European Super League: ‘Nobody is safe from these billionaires’
Voices from in and around the football community give their thoughts after a tumultuous week for the game

Interviews by Barry Glendenning

23, Apr, 2021 @12:41 PM

Article image
The European Super League is the perfect metaphor for global capitalism | Larry Elliott
Our lives are increasingly governed by ‘free’ markets that turn out to be rigged, says Guardian columnist Larry Elliott

Larry Elliott

22, Apr, 2021 @5:00 AM

Article image
‘Greed’: Super League plans provoke angry response in Manchester
Fans vent anger after feeling betrayed by City and United’s move to join breakaway European Super League

Maya Wolfe-Robinson

19, Apr, 2021 @3:48 PM

Article image
European Super League collapsing as all six English clubs withdraw
The clubs made their U-turn after pressure from fans and government and Arsenal and Tottenham apologised to fans for their participation

Sean Ingle, Peter Walker and Nick Ames

21, Apr, 2021 @5:35 AM