Florentino Perez has said he’s “completely sure” Real Madrid and other Super League participants won’t be thrown out of this season’s Champions League over their role in the proposed breakaway group — and blasted the current competition’s format, saying it’s “only attractive from the quarterfinals” and clubs “will all die” without major reform.
Madrid president Perez — one of the driving forces behind the Super League project, who has been named as its chairman — is the first senior executive involved in the plan to speak publicly since Sunday’s announcement.
“The Champions League is attractive from the quarterfinals, that’s all,” he told late-night Spanish talk show El Chiringuito. “We play against small teams that aren’t attractive. Young people prefer to entertain themselves with other things. But if we do it all season, five games on Tuesday, five on Wednesday, that would be unstoppable.
“What would bring in money is the 15 clubs playing each other every week. That’s the greatest show in the world, there’s nothing like it,” he added. “A Real Madrid-Manchester [United] or a Barcelona-Milan is more attractive than Manchester [United] against a small club.
“What does the world demand? We have fans in Singapore, in China, all around the world, you see that on social media, the followers they have. That’s what brings in money.”
Twelve clubs — AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Internazionale, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur — have joined the ESL as founding members.
The breakaway competition, intended as a replacement for UEFA’s Champions League — which announced its own plans for reform on Monday — has said that three more clubs are expected to join, while another five would qualify based on performance.
“Today, with the income from the Champions League as it is, we’ll die,” Perez said, stressing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. “Less audience, less money. We’ll all die, the big clubs, the medium-size clubs, the small clubs. They say the new Champions League format will come in by 2024, we’ll be dead by then.”
Speaking ahead of Real Madrid’s trip tp Cadiz in La Liga on Wednesday, coach Zinedine Zidane refused to be drawn on plans for a breakaway, or the rumours his side could be removed from the Champions League semifinals.
“We don’t even talk about it. We only talk about one thing, the game tomorrow,” Zidane said.
“I’m here to talk about the game tomorrow, the league, the Champions League. The rest isn’t my job. I won’t give you my opinion. I understand, you can say I don’t say what I think and don’t say anything. Why? Because my job, what I’m doing, that’s what I enjoy. The rest … what good does it do?”
Perez is the Super League’s first chairman, while Andrea Agnelli of Juventus and Joel Glazer of Manchester United have been named as vice chairmen.
The project has met vociferous criticism from football’s governing bodies, fans and other high-profile clubs who are not involved.
La Liga called the ESL a “selfish, egotistical proposal designed to further enrich the already super rich” in a statement on Monday.
Sevilla — currently in fourth place in La Liga behind the three ESL backers Atletico, Real and Barca — expressed their “complete rejection of a tournament based exclusively on economic parameters.”
Perez, 74, who was reelected without opposition as Real Madrid president for another four-year term earlier this month, also rejected the suggestion that the club could be thrown out of this season’s Champions League.
Madrid are due to face Chelsea in the first leg of their semifinal on Tuesday, April 27, before the return leg on Wednesday, May 5.
“They won’t throw Madrid out of the Champions League, for sure,” Perez said. “Not Madrid or [Manchester] City or anyone. I’m completely sure. Or La Liga either.”
Jesper Moller, the Danish member of UEFA’s executive committee, said on Monday that he expected Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City to be removed from the competition.
Perez also insisted that players “can be completely calm” about being banned from participating in UEFA and FIFA international tournaments such as the World Cup, “because that won’t happen.”