JP Morgan: why is investment bank financing European Super League, what is it worth - and who is Ed Woodward?

A spokesman for the US firm – one of the biggest banks in the world – told the PA news agency that it will provide debt financing for the competition

Investment bank JP Morgan has confirmed it will be financing the new European Super League, set to feature 12 of the continent’s biggest football clubs.

In a letter to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, the Super League Company said it had secured a commitment to underwrite funding for the competition in the range of four billion euros (approximately £3.5 billion), and JP Morgan confirmed it is financing the deal.

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Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, and Manchester City have announced they have signed up to the plan, joining teams from Italy and Spain.

The controversial plans would see the breakaway teams create a competition to rival the Champions League, but it would not feature relegation or promotion – leading to the accusations of a closed shop for the richest clubs.

Teams would play each other in midweek while still competing in their domestic leagues.

But what is JP Morgan? What is the history of the firm?

Here is everything you need to know about it.

JP Morgan is one of America's 'Big Four' banks, and is considered a systemically important bank by the Financial Stability Board (Photo: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

What is JP Morgan?

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is an American investment bank and financial services holding company headquartered on Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.

One of America's Big Four banks (along with Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo) it is the world's most valuable bank, and considered a systemically important bank by the Financial Stability Board, an international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system.

Its origins can be defined by several different measures, and in its current structure, JPMorgan Chase is the result of the combination of several large US banking companies.

(Image: NationalWorld)

The company's oldest predecessor institution, the Bank of the Manhattan Company, was the third oldest banking corporation in the United States, and the 31st oldest bank in the world.

It was established on 1 September 1799 by Aaron Burr, who would go on to serve as the third vice president of the United States from 1801 to 1805.

In 1955, the Bank of the Manhattan Company purchased Chase National Bank, which led to the formation of the Chase Manhattan Bank.

J.P. Morgan & Co. was a commercial and investment banking institution founded by financier J. P. Morgan in 1871, which merged with Chase Manhattan Bank in 1959, beginning to put real shape to what we see from the company today.

The new Super League would not feature relegation or promotion – leading to the accusations of a closed shop for the richest clubs (Photo: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Since then, it has swallowed up other banking institutions like Washington Mutual, First Chicago Bank, National Bank of Detroit, and Great Western Bank.

In 2010, the bank announced the purchase of 25 Bank Street, an office tower in London’s Canary Wharf, where it established its European headquarters. The bank also has offices in Bournemouth, Glasgow, and Edinburgh.

Has JP Morgan had any controversies?

Like most banks, JP Morgan is not without its financial controversies.

In 2018, it was reported that JP Morgan agreed to pay $5.3 million (£3.8 million) to settle allegations suggesting it had violated Cuban Assets Control Regulations, Iranian sanctions and Weapons of Mass Destruction sanctions 87 times, according to the US Treasury.

And last year, the company admitted that it manipulated precious metals futures and government bond markets over a period of eight years, and was forced to settle with the United States Department of Justice and other government agencies for $920 million (£662 million).

Also in 2020, JPMorgan Chase declared that it had begun to work on achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, despite being the first United States bank to issue a cryptocurrency (JPM Coin), a new technology that is famously electricity intensive.

JPMorgan has also come under criticism for investing in new coal, oil and gas projects since the Paris climate change agreement, was sued by the United States in 2017 for discriminating against "thousands" of black and Hispanic mortgage borrowers, and been accused of paying lip services to cover human rights violations.

How much is JP Morgan worth?

In 2020, JP Morgan reported a revenue of $119.54 billion (£85.93).

The bank’s total equity was valued at $279.35 billion (£200.81 million), and its total assets at $3.386 trillion (£2.43 trillion).

Why is it financing the Super League?

The financial goings on of the European Super League are not yet 100 per cent known, but many have pointed out the link between Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Edward Woodward and the bank; he is employed by both parties.

Woodward – an accountant and investment banker at JP Morgan – has stepped down from his role at UEFA following the announcement of the league.

Why has the Super League come under fire?

News of the breakaway competition leaked out before it was officially announced and had already provoked a fierce backlash from UEFA and various national leagues and associations.

They pointed out the competition was unsanctioned and clubs and players risked bans by being involved.

World governing body FIFA also issued a strong condemnation after the announcement was made and called for further discussions.

The statement read: “In our view, and in accordance with our statutes, any football competition, whether national, regional or global, should always reflect the core principles of solidarity, inclusivity, integrity and equitable financial distribution.

“Moreover, the governing bodies of football should employ all lawful, sporting and diplomatic means to ensure this remains the case.

“Against this background, FIFA can only express its disapproval to a ‘closed European breakaway league’ outside of the international football structures and not respecting the aforementioned principles.”

It went on to call for unity and “all parties involved in heated discussions to engage in calm, constructive and balanced dialogue for the good of the game”.

UEFA, along with the Football Associations of England, Spain and Italy, plus the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A, said they would use all available means to stop the “cynical project”.

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