Football

European Super League will save football: Florentino Perez

Real Madrid chief insists fresh impetus is needed as top clubs are losing money, Bayern CEO says clubs should be reviewing players' wages and agents' fees

The controversial decision to form a breakaway European Super League was taken "to save football" and in part motivated because "young people are no longer interested" in the game, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said yesterday.

Speaking for the first time since 12 top European clubs announced last Sunday that they would form a new elite league, the new chairman of the Super League said football needed to evolve and adapt to the times.

"Whenever there is a change, there are always people who oppose it... and we are doing this to save football at this critical moment," Perez said on Spanish TV show El Chiringuito de Jugones.

"Audiences are decreasing and rights are decreasing and something had to be done. We are all ruined. Television has to change so we can adapt.

"Young people are no longer interested in football. Why not? Because there are a lot of poor quality games and they are not interested, they have other platforms on which to distract themselves."

Real are joined in the venture by two other La Liga clubs, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

English Premier League sides Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have also signed up, although The Guardian reported yesterday that City and Chelsea are wavering in their plans.

The founding group of 12 is completed by Italian Serie A trio AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus. Another three clubs will be included as guaranteed members and five others will qualify to join them each year.

Perez said they had not invited Paris Saint-Germain or any German clubs and had not decided what criteria would be used to choose the additional teams.

He added that there is a need for fresh impetus, and the expanded Champions League announced by Uefa on Monday was not the answer, as the top clubs are losing money due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Together we have lost five billion (euros) (S$8b)," he said.

"In two seasons, Madrid have lost 400 million."

However, Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge believes that the ESL will not solve these financial woes.

He issued a statement reiterating the deposed holders' faith in the Champions League, adding that all clubs in Europe should work together to ensure that the "cost structure, especially players' salaries and agents' fees, are brought in line with revenues".

Perez also came up with a string of novel suggestions during the almost two-hour TV show, suggesting football matches could be shortened to make them more appealing .

He also brushed aside claims by Uefa committee member Jesper Moller, who said Real, City and Chelsea could be withdrawn from this season's Champions League semi-finals.

"They are the threats of someone who confuses monopoly with property," said Perez. "Madrid will not be kicked out of the Champions League, definitely not. Nor City, nor anyone else."

Uefa also said players could be stopped from featuring for their countries, but Perez also insisted that would not happen.

Meanwhile, a preliminary ruling by a commercial court in Madrid yesterday states that Fifa, Uefa or any football body cannot take "any measure that prohibits, restricts, limits or conditions in any way" the league's launch until the court has fully considered the case. - AFP, REUTERS

Football