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People and MarketsCommentLeader

Who’s the banker in the black?


Let history show that even though no one even kicked a ball in the European Super League, it still had a winner: JP Morgan.

The outrage that some of Europe’s top football clubs caused in attempting to form their own closed shop league was almost as universal as it was furious. The club owners that launched this scheme on Sunday managed to misjudge mood so utterly that by Tuesday, they were abandoning it like the flaming wreck it always was.

But not everyone involved has emerged a loser. Backing the wheeze with a $3.5bn loan was JP Morgan. Banker bashing has been a sport almost as popular as football since 2008 but with critics lining up to pour scorn on the firm, the reality is that it has done itself proud.

Super or not, JP Morgan backed its clients. It had to. It will earn far more from the other businesses of Super League club owners like the Glazers, Florentino Perez, Abu Dhabi and the hedge fund Elliott than it will from, say, fans protesting outside stadiums.

Clients will note who to call when they need to fund a controversial plan of their own — like a bold acquisition.

JP Morgan helps finance plenty worse than this too. Rainforest Action Network, an environmental pressure group, ranks it as the “biggest and baddest” fossil fuel financier.

It will have considered the risks of its loan. It may well have pocketed a commitment fee in the process bigger than some banks' quarterly capital markets revenues too. Although it would be a stretch to suggest that the deal was a PR stunt, it can apologise, or not, and move on fast. But let’s be honest, many banks would love to have written this ticket.