‘The English haven’t gone’ - Perez insists Super League project not dead
‘I’m convinced that if this project doesn’t work another similar one will’
Real Madrid chief Florentino Perez, who was announced as the first ESL president, said the European Super League breakaway reflected the big clubs’ wishes. File photograph: Getty Images
The breakaway Super League collapsed due to the ferocity of opposition and because one of the English clubs, understood to be Manchester City, was not fully committed, according to Florentino Pérez.
The president of Real Madrid, who insisted the project was not dead, claimed Uefa had acted as if the 12 rebel clubs had “dropped an atomic bomb”, and said the Premier League clubs lost their nerve. He also accused the Chelsea fans who gathered outside Stamford Bridge of being stooges.
Speaking in an interview with the late-night radio show El Larguero, Pérez admitted he was “sad and disappointed”. But he insisted none of the clubs, all of which he said had signed identical contracts which contain penalty clauses for pulling out, had formally left the association and claimed they would continue to work to find “solutions”. He denied that Juventus and Milan had pulled out, described Barcelona as “reflecting”, and at one point during a long, rambling and often contradictory appearance, even said “the English haven’t gone”.
“There was one of the English clubs who didn’t seem so interested and that spread to the rest,” Pérez said. “They signed the contract but we could already see that that they were not convinced. And then the avalanche started, the Premier League ‘heating things up’. They said: ‘We’re going to pull out for now.’ There was a club that you could tell wasn’t as interested but they worked with us and signed up.”
Although he had said he wouldn’t name the club, when he was asked if it was Manchester City, Pérez said: “The one from Manchester saw the campaign saying this will kill the leagues, that it won’t allow [SPORTING]merit, that it was the end of football. There are people who have privileges and don’t want to lose them, even if it ruins football. When the English called me [ON TUESDAY], we met to see what we could do. They tried, but said: ‘Look, we’re not going to do this.’ ”
Asked why the English clubs pulled out: “Because they saw the atmosphere. Uefa turned it into a show. It was as if we had dropped an atomic bomb. Maybe we didn’t explain it well but they didn’t give us the chance to. Why? Because they didn’t want us to. I have never seen such aggressiveness; it was orchestrated. They next day they killed us. They were waiting for us. I think they knew we were going to do it. There were threats, insults, as if we had killed football.
“The owners are mostly not English. They’re not in it to make money, they have teams in America, love sport and they found themselves in a position they didn’t expect. They’re old, they got scared,” said Pérez, who is 74.
Pérez also took issue with the suggestion that opposition to the plans was unanimous. Asked about the Chelsea fans that gathered outside Stamford Bridge, he shot back: “There were 40 of them and if you like I’ll tell you who brought them there.”
When he was brought back to that remark later, asked to say who it was who had planted the fans there, he made reference to anti-super league T-shirts that La Liga had arranged for players to wear before this midweek round of games, including Madrid’s trip to Cádiz. “Well, the person who put them there,” he said, not entirely coherently. “Like the one who organised the T-shirts in Cádiz. The same, the same. This isn’t normal.”
Pérez said Atlético had pulled out of the Super League “feeling low after having to hear so many stupid things”. He also insisted that Barcelona’s president, Joan Laporta, had been due to speak the day after he first had. “They didn’t even give him 24 hours to do so,” he said. “He tried, like the English did. I think they got very tired of working hard just for there to be problems. It cannot be that in England, the six lose money and 14 make money. In Spain the top three lose money, and the others make money. That can’t continue; it is the rich are those who are losing money.”
Pérez said the Super League was on “standby”, that he was certain a “very similar” competition would soon be created, and the group was open to discussing ideas with Uefa and other bodies: “We are going to keep working. We are looking for ways of getting this done. It would be a shame not to get it done.” - Guardian