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Super League could cause clubs to disappear, warns Shakhtar CEO

SoccerNews in La Liga 2 Mar 2024

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Plans to found a European Super League are “purely about money” and the breakaway competition would cause smaller clubs to disappear if it ever came into being.

That is the view of Shakhtar Donetsk chief executive Serhiy Palkin, who believes the vast majority of European clubs are united in their support for UEFA.

The threat of a Super League has never fully gone away despite fierce fan and media opposition causing the competition’s attempted 2021 launch to fail in spectacular fashion.

Real Madrid and Barcelona remain committed to the project, and in late 2022, A22 Sports Management was enlisted to oversee its revival, with a plan for a three-tier competition featuring promotion and relegation with no permanent members made public last year.

Those plans were met with widespread criticism, with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin saying the proposal was “even more closed” than the initial Super League format, given a tier-one founder would be guaranteed three years in the competition regardless of their results.

Last December, the European Court of Justice ruled UEFA cannot stop breakaway competitions by threatening to sanction clubs, but Palkin feels there is no real desire for change.

“For me, it’s difficult to discuss. When this news was issued about A22 winning in court, we had already issued our statement, we are supporting UEFA,” he told Stats Perform.

“Almost 90 per cent of clubs did the same statement on their websites. We have a special group on WhatsApp, everybody supports UEFA. I don’t understand this Super League.

“I don’t understand what kind of essence they have. I don’t understand why we need to change something, when under the umbrella of UEFA, we have very well-structured competitions.

“If you look from 10 years ago to today, they developed a lot of things in a good way and they are always raising the amount of money that we receive.

“They are increasing the number of games, they are increasing the number of competitions with the Conference League.

“They involved a lot of clubs. It’s not all clubs, but the number of clubs involved in European competitions is increasing significantly.

“The most important thing for me is the involvement of clubs in European competitions and the financial support of these competitions. All the numbers are just increasing.”

Palkin believes only the very richest clubs stand to benefit from the Super League, warning smaller sides might struggle to stay afloat if the plans ever come to fruition.

“We don’t have just 25 clubs in Europe. We need to pay attention to the whole of football. The most important thing is to spread football over the whole of Europe,” he added.

“Otherwise, don’t go to stadiums, just switch on the TV and see the top, top clubs playing between each other, and that’s it. Then they become much, much richer, and others disappear.

“For them [smaller clubs], receiving these bonuses from UEFA is critical from a financial point of view.

“I support football, the game itself, and we need to promote this idea. This Super League, it’s not about the game, it’s just about money. It’s purely about money.”

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