SOCCER

A new proposal for European super league

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has put forward a proposal for a new European league which would be based on merit, unlike the failed European Super League project.

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A new proposal for European super league
YARA NARDI REUTERS

Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis has proposed a €10bn alternative to the failed European Super League concept, which collapsed just days after it was announced back in April after nine of the 12 founding members pulled out following an unprecedented backlash from fans and the wider footballing world.

One of the factors behind the strong hostility towards the Super League project, whose founding members included Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, was the fact that qualification for the league would not be based on merit, with 15 clubs remaining permanent fixtures in the competition regardless of performance.

De Laurentiis' proposal for European football

De Laurentiis, who transformed Serie A club Napoli’s fortunes after taking it over in 2004 when it was languishing in the third division, has proposed an idea for a European league that would be completely based on merit, while also calling for the reduction of the size of domestic leagues.

“We need to reduce the number of games by reducing the size of the top divisions across Europe,” he told the Daily Mail. “Also, we create a European league with a democratic system of entry, based on what teams achieve in their domestic competitions. I have examined a project ready to bring €10bn to the European game, but we need willingness and total independence.”

De Laurentiis bought Napoli in 2004.

De Laurentiis bought Napoli in 2004.

Laurentiis: Current UEFA system no longer financially viable

De Laurentiis insisted that the current system encompassing UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League formats “doesn't work any more”, arguing that these competitions do not generate sufficient income for participating clubs.

“To be competitive, you need more top-class players. That means you have to spend more money — and the prize money from the European competitions doesn't account for that,” he explained.

“That is why the clubs need to speak to each other to come up with a more modern and lucrative tournament for everyone in it.”

The Napoli president, who is also a prominent film producer, warned that under the game’s current system, the popularity of football among younger generations will continue to decline much to the detriment of the game and its clubs.

“If we don't change the rules of the game and make it a better spectacle, young people will abandon us and football will no longer be the central part of our lives,” warned De Laurentiis.

“My research tells me that people between the ages of eight and 25 have stopped watching football and prefer playing with smartphones — they have totally transformed our children. I'm not saying that the habit of watching live football in a stadium will die, but now we have the 'virtual stadium', which can attract billions of people to play games against each other. Who knows if we will manage to get them back down the route of the greatest and most influential sport in the world?”