December 6, 2023

Real Madrid President Florentino Perez pictured in Madrid, Spain on February 18, 2020.

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LONDON – The European Super League chairman has stated that plans to form a new runaway elite competition are aimed at “saving” football and countering widespread criticism by saying that change is necessary because young people are “no longer interested in the sport”.

In an interview with Spanish TV program El Chiringuito de Jugones on Monday, Florentino Perez, who is also president of Spanish club Real Madrid, said: “Whenever something changes, there are always people who are against it … and we are. ” to do so to save football at this critical moment. “

“Audiences are falling, and rights are falling, and something had to be done. We are all ruined. Television has to change so we can adapt,” he continued.

“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 where they can get distracted,” said Perez.

Perez did not provide any evidence that younger football fans turned away from the sport due to a lack of interest or the decline in television viewing.

His comments came shortly after it was announced that 12 of the richest football teams in Europe, including Real Madrid, had signed up as founding members of the ESL. The project received $ 6 billion in debt funding from JPMorgan.

The ESL should keep up with the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s best annual club competition, and start “as soon as it is practicable”.

Teams that have agreed to play in the ESL:

  • England: Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal.
  • Spain: Barcelona, ​​Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
  • Italy: Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.

The ESL will eventually consist of 20 clubs, 15 of which will be permanent, meaning they cannot be relegated. This is controversial as teams currently have to qualify for the Champions League every year and can be promoted and relegated from the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A.

The move has sparked outrage from lawmakers, governing bodies, former players, fans, managers and experts, and many are concerned about the implications for the structure of national competition.

This is because the current “pyramid scheme” allows teams to move up and down from their respective leagues on the basis of merit. The 14 Premier League clubs not participating in the ESL are expected to discuss their response to the matter on Tuesday.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has condemned the ESL project and called the move a “spit in the face” of all football lovers. “We’re not going to let them take it away from us,” he added.

‘Core Principles’

In 2018, the Premier League reported a significant decrease in revenue from the sale of rights to broadcast football matches in the UK

BT and Sky are offering £ 4.4 billion (US $ 6.1 billion) to televise the lion’s share of 200 games for each season between 2019 and 2022. That number fell from £ 5.1 billion in 2015.

In a joint statement on Sunday, the 12 teams planning to join the ESL said: “The formation of the Super League comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability of the existing European football economic model.”

“The pandemic demonstrated the need for a strategic vision and sustainable economic approach to add value and support for the benefit of the entire European football pyramid,” they added.

Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino shoots under pressure from Real Madrid’s Eder Militao during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Anfield on April 14, 2021 in Liverpool, England.

Shaun Botterill | Getty Images Sports | Getty Images

The organizers claim that the ESL will generate more money than the UEFA Champions League competition and will lead to a greater distribution of revenues across the sport.

The world association FIFA has sharply criticized the proposal and called for further discussions with those involved.

“In our view and in accordance with our statutes, every football competition, whether national, regional or global, should always reflect the basic principles of solidarity, inclusiveness, integrity and fair financial distribution,” FIFA said on Monday.

“Furthermore, the governing bodies of football should use all legal, athletic and diplomatic means to ensure that this continues to be the case,” they added.

– CNBC’s Sam Shead contributed to this report.