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Van der Sar calls for new system to ensure smaller clubs can compete with Europe's elite

Ajax: Van der Sar calls for new system to ensure smaller clubs can compete with Europe's elite

Laurence Griffiths

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The Ajax sporting director believes that the chances of smaller clubs reaching the final stages of the Champions League will continue to become slimmer unless there are major changes to the current system.

Ajax sporting director, Edwin van der Sar, was delighted with his club’s 1-0 away win over Tottenham in the Champions League on Tuesday, a result that has given them a slender advantage to reach their first final since 1996.

However, the legendary keeper believes that instances of smaller teams with modest budgets like Ajax reaching the final rounds of the competitions will be increasingly less frequent, due to the massive financial injections that Europe’s elite clubs receive each year. As such the 48-year-old has brought a case to the of European Club Association (ECA) chairman Andrea Agnelli on behalf of smaller clubs.

“We need to create a system where the big clubs in the minor leagues can still confront the most important leagues. I think of clubs like us, Celtic, Benfica, Anderlecht, Salzburg, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce,” he told The Scottish Sun.

This difference in budgets could cause an even wider gap as time goes on. And this is something that Van der Sar wants to change, with the former Ajax and Manchester United keeper speaking to Agnelli about coming up with a remedy before it's too late.

Ajax players celebrate after their win over Tottenham.

Van der Sar: "Something has to be done"

"I have recently discussed this with Agnelli. There are some things I share his view on like playing more European games. But the system at the moment is that the differences between the various national leagues, especially in terms of TV rights, deny competitiveness,” explained Van der Sar.

"We get around £8 million in TV rights a year - that means we have little chance of competing. Our only weapon is football. We have to produce home players, but the rich clubs can shop around the world. Something has to be done."

Agnelli, who is also president of Juventus, is the chief proponent of a new European Super League which would entail a relegation and promotion structure that could have negative consequences for smaller clubs like those mentioned by Van der Sar. Last week, The Times reported that Agnelli has sent his blueprint for the radically revamped Champions League to all 232 ECA member clubs.