February 19 – English Premier League chief executive Richard Masters (pictured) and his Bundesliga counterpart Christian Seifert have both opposed the much-rumoured plans to form a breakaway European super league to replace the Champions League.
Both officials spoke at the annual Financial Times’s Business of Football summit, this year virtually, and made clear they disagreed with the concept that is widely reported to be driven by the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Liverpool.
Masters described the idea as “destructive to the value of domestic football across Europe” – not least because there would be no relegation or promotion.
“Any super league proposal that I’ve read about or heard about doesn’t have access via domestic leagues,” he said.
Bundesliga chief executive Seifert did not mince his words in criticising those clubs backing the proposed project.
“The brutal truth is that a few of these so-called super clubs are in fact poorly-managed, cash-burning machines that were not able, in a decade of incredible growth, to come close to a sustainable business model,” Seifert said.
Masters also confirmed that the Premier League will remain at 20 clubs for the foreseeable future.
A proposal made last year – dubbed ‘Project Big Picture’ – was designed to change the voting structure of the Premier League and funding models for the English Football League and Football Association.
Part of the arrangement was reducing the Premier League from 20 to 18 teams but when asked about the chances of those proposals being introduced, Masters replied: “We have been a 20-team league and have been since 1995. That is the favoured model across Europe, apart from the Bundesliga. At the moment and for the foreseeable future, the Premier League is a 20-club competition.”
Masters also said he was hopeful supporters may be able to return to watch live matches in person at some point this season despite the Covid-19 pandemic that has barred fans for much of the campaign.
Aside from a brief period in December, the pandemic has forced all top-flight matches to be played behind closed doors since professional football returned in June.
“I am confident (fans will return next season). No one can say because this pandemic has a way of surprising you but we haven’t lost hope we might see a few back this season,” he said, “depending on what happens and the direction of the numbers and government decisions etc.”
“We are getting used to watching live football on television without fans in the stadiums, and I don’t want to get used to it for much longer. Hopefully we will see an end to that and a return of supporters as soon as possible.”
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