European Club Association general secretary Michele Centenaro has distanced the organisation from the concept of a breakaway European Super League.
A meeting last week between five of the Premier League’s major clubs and Charlie Stillitano – chairman of Relevent Sports, which is owned by American billionaire Stephen Ross and runs the pre-season International Champions Cup tournaments – prompted speculation that moves were afoot to establish a new competition outside of national league and UEFA control.
Arsenal and another club at the meeting told Omnisport the main item on the agenda was the organisation of future ICC events, along with Champions League reform.
But comments made by Stillitano later in the week, concerning the idea certain elite clubs being guaranteed a Champions League place irrespective of their standing domestically, stoked the issue further.
Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and his Juventus president Andrea Agnelli refused to rule out supporting a future breakaway when they spoke at a financial fair play meeting in Milan in January.
“You can’t rule out that in the future we could create a European league with the major clubs from Italy, Germany, England, Spain and France, under the auspices of UEFA or a private investigation,” said Rummenigge, who is also the president of the ECA.
ECA board member Agnelli added: “The Champions League is worth €1.5billion in television rights compared to almost €7billion for the NFL. However, market studies show that of the two billion sports fans worldwide, 1.6 billion are football fans with American football accounting for just 150 million fans,” he said.
“This must make people think about the untapped potential regarding the format of current football competitions.”
But Centenaro insisted a Super League or any competition operating beyond UEFA is not on the group’s agenda.
“The ECA does not sponsor the creation of any Super League in Europe, we seek an improvement of the current Champions League, but always in the hands of UEFA,” he said during a meeting at Barcelona’s Masia complex, staged to discuss strengthening women’s football in Europe.
“Let’s not forget, they are our main partner and we work together with them in this respect.”
Centenaro believes Rummenigge and Agnelli’s standpoint was “taken out of context”, although he also used the American comparison to underline the ECA’s desire to increase revenues for its clubs.
“We need to work and reach an agreement to improve the current formula of the Champions League and, above all, to increase revenue,” he added.
“We are still far from what they collect other professional sports competitions in the United States.”