Real’s Perez claims Super League here to ‘save football’

New body’s president said they had been working on plans for two years

 Florentino Perez: “We’re doing this to save football. We want to save football for the next 20 years at least so we can survive without worries.” Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty

Florentino Perez: “We’re doing this to save football. We want to save football for the next 20 years at least so we can survive without worries.” Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty

 

Florentino Perez painted a dramatic, dark portrait of football’s future and presented himself and the other breakaway clubs as its saviour as he attempted to justify plans for a Super League over which he will preside.

In the first interview with any of the key figures behind the plan, the Real Madrid president claimed the purpose of the league, which he hopes will start “as soon as possible”, is to “save football”. He insisted the clubs could not wait until 2024 for Uefa’s new Champions League format because “by 2024 we’re dead”.

Perez said football was in “freefall”, that TV viewing figures were dropping and rights declining.

He said “€5,000m has been lost by the clubs; we’re on the edge of ruin”, adding: “We don’t want the rich to be richer and the poor poorer. We have to save football. Everything I do is for the good of football, which is in a critical moment.”

In an interview with the TV programme El Chiringuito, the Super League’s president said they had been working on plans for two years but “the pandemic has told us to do it now”.

He also insisted there was no chance that the breakaway clubs could be kicked out of the Champions League and accused Uefa, “a monopoly”, of lacking transparency and not having a “good image”. He gave no details on the financial backing of the breakaway league.

Perez claimed this is “not a closed league” but could not explain how the final five places would be filled, although he said it would be based on “sporting merit”.

He claimed that Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain had not been invited.

“It wasn’t difficult to convince [the Barcelona president Joan] Laporta,” he said. “When you tell them the way it is, there’s no alternative. If there was a better option ? This will help Barcelona, who are in a bad situation economically. Laporta is sensible and he understood. This saves everyone, it saves football.”

According to Perez, football has 4 billion fans around the world and yet he claimed that 40 per cent of people between 16 and 24 were no longer interested and that interest was declining.

“If we don’t do something, it won’t last long,” he said. “Football has to change and it has to adapt.

Little quality

“There are lots of games of little quality; we have to change this sport to make it more attractive at all levels. Real Madrid v Manchester United is more attractive than Manchester [United] against a more modest team. The Champions League is only attractive from the quarter-finals onwards. Before that it’s [with] modest teams that are not attractive.”

One of his suggestions was a willingness to make games shorter.

On the subject of finances, he said: “With Uefa income was around €120m; we’re talking about €400m, €500m; it would be three or four times more. This is a pyramid – it filters down. The future of football is at stake.

“Some don’t like it because they are going to lose their privileges and they are irresponsible. We’re doing this to save football. We want to save football for the next 20 years at least so we can survive without worries.”

When asked about the Super League, Madrid’s manager Zinedine Zidane said: “That’s a question for one person, the president,” before adding: “I have my opinion, but I’m not going to give it to you. After, you are going to say: ‘Zidane never gets wet, he never says anything.’ Why? Because what drives me is my job, this that I do from day to day.”

La Liga’s president, Javier Tebas, hit out at Perez.

“Football isn’t completely ruined like he says, nor is the Super League, which is one of the problems, the solution . . . it’s the death of football,” he said.

– Guardian

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