Florentino Perez: Real Madrid president insists European Super League will 'save football at this critical moment'
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez says the European Super League will “save football at this critical moment” and insists players taking part in the competition will not be banned from representing their national teams.
The Spaniard’s comments come after 12 leading European clubs committed to join a new tournament that will begin “as soon as is practicable”.
Speaking for the first time since the announcement, the new chairman of the Super League said football needed to evolve.
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“Whenever there is a change, there are always people who oppose it. 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 Madrid are joined by La Liga rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, as well as Premier League clubs Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham.
The founding group of 12 is completed by Italian clubs AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus. Another three will be included as guaranteed members and five others will qualify to join them each year.
Perez stressed the top teams were losing money, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that the expanded Champions League announced by UEFA on Monday was not the answer.
“If we continue with the Champions League there is less and less interest and then it’s over,” he said. The new format, which starts in 2024 is absurd. In 2024 we are all dead.
“Together we have lost €5 billion,” he said of the top clubs’ alleged losses. “In two seasons Madrid have lost €400m.
“When you have no income other than television, you say that the solution is to make more attractive matches that fans from all over the world can see with all the big clubs, and we came to the conclusion that if instead of having a Champions League we have a Super League we would be able to alleviate what we have lost.”
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Perez also criticised UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, who earlier in the day had said players featuring in the competition will be banned from the World Cup and European Championship.
“[The players] can remain absolutely calm because that’s not going to happen. Very calm, that’s not going to happen,” Perez said.
Asked if Real Madrid will be kicked out of this season’s Champions League, he added: “No, they won’t be expelled from Champions (League), that’s for sure.
“Real Madrid won’t be, (Manchester) City won’t be, none of them will be expelled, that’s for sure. I’m completely sure of it. Not from Champions (League), not from La Liga, nothing like that.
“If we reach an agreement with UEFA we want to start (the new league) in August, if not, we can wait a year.”
The move has plunged the game of football into turmoil and triggered widespread condemnation across both sport and society, but Perez brushed off the criticism and played up the prospect of more big games.
“What’s so attractive? That we play among the big teams, the competitiveness, to generate more resources?” he added.
“This is not a league for the rich, it’s a league to save football.”
European Super League: The key questions
Six English teams are part of a breakaway European Super League, but what do we know so far?
What has happened?
Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have announced they have agreed to establish a new midweek competition, the European Super League, governed by its ‘Founding Clubs’.
The proposal involves the clubs forming their own competition to rival the UEFA Champions League.
Which clubs are involved?
The Premier League’s big-six clubs – Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham – are all involved.
AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as ‘Founding Clubs’.
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It is anticipated a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which, according to the clubs, ‘is intended to commence as soon as practicable’.
German giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are not included and nor are French champions Paris Saint-Germain.
Why has this come about now?
The clubs say that “the formation of the Super League comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model. Further, for a number of years, the Founding Clubs have had the objective of improving the quality and intensity of existing European competitions throughout each season, and of creating a format for top clubs and players to compete on a regular basis.
“The pandemic has shown that a strategic vision and a sustainable commercial approach are required to enhance value and support for the benefit of the entire European football pyramid.”
However, Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol says this has come about now for one reason, and one reason only.
“The reason it is happening now is because we have had a global pandemic, finances at the biggest clubs in Europe have been hit,” he said.
“I keep saying it is about money, and if you look at the finances, a club like Man Utd playing in the Champions League, they make between £40m and £80m on a good year if they win it.
“If they play in this new competition, they get a cheque for £250m-£300m to begin with, then in the future they will get three times as much money a season as they get from the Champions League.
“You are looking at £200m-£250m in TV rights, they will be able to sell some of the rights to the games themselves on their own channels, the broadcast rights all over the world.”
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