European Leagues group slams breakaway competition for rich clubs

Florentino Perez (left) backs the creation of a closed Super League for world’s richest clubs. (AP pic)

LAUSANNE: The Association of European Leagues on Tuesday slammed reported plans backed by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez to create a closed Super League for the world’s richest clubs.

“We are getting very tired of all the threats coming from a few rich clubs in football,” said the organisation, which represents leagues across Europe, in a statement penned by its president, Lars-Christer Olsson.

“Threats that they are going to break away from the football ecosystem as we know it and create their own private environment.”

It comes after reports in the New York Times that Perez has held talks with officials from other leading clubs, and Fifa President Gianni Infantino, about the possibility of creating a breakaway elite competition, comprised of two 20-team divisions.

It would chiefly feature clubs from the leading five European leagues – England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France – as well as a handful of other leading sides.

“Professional club football is not a private business for a few where only the size of the pockets determines who is welcome,” said the European Leagues, before indicating that they would no longer be welcome in existing competitions – such as the Champions League – should a breakaway tournament be created.

“Football is a sport and not primarily a place for financial investment and commercial return.

“Of course, football must develop and move with the times according to the conditions in every corner of the world. Football must be prepared for reform when conditions change.

“However, the solution is not a closed league at the top of the pyramid in Europe and certainly not a closed shop on top of the world where only a few of the richest clubs are invited.”

The threat of a breakaway league involving the richest clubs in Europe and around the world is nothing new and has in the past been heavily criticised by Uefa chief Aleksander Ceferin, who sees it is a threat to the Champions League.

Former Barcelona, Real Madrid and Portugal star Luis Figo on Tuesday offered his support to Ceferin, saying a closed Super League would “kill the prestige and excitement around national leagues for fans and for players”.

Figo added the Champions League “will remain the summit of club football” and that “those who think they can overtake it will fail”.