Super League project not dead, says Real president Perez

Soccer Football - Real Madrid president Florentino Perez arrives at a radio station in Madrid, Spain - April 21, 2021 REUTERS/Sergio Perez

(Reuters) - The president of Real Madrid defended the moribund European Super League on Thursday, saying he was open to altering the format as long as the big clubs with “most fans and most social media followers” were guaranteed a place.

Perez said “four from each place” could qualify but did not explain more fully.

However, he was adamant the Super League project was not dead and that he was still talking with the four remaining clubs, Real, Barcelona, Juventus and AC Milan.

“The project is on stand-by,” Perez told Spanish radio program El Larguero. “We are going to keep working.”

“I'm convinced that if this project doesn’t work another similar one will.”

Twelve of Europe's top football clubs – six from England, and three each from Spain and Italy - announced on Sunday they were launching the controversial breakaway Super League in the face of widespread opposition from within the game and beyond.

Fifteen top clubs were guaranteed a place and another five would qualify each season.

However, the project collapsed on Tuesday after eight of the 12 founding members withdrew.

The sport’s governing bodies, other teams and fan organisations said the league would increase the power and wealth of the elite clubs and the partially closed structure goes against European football's long-standing model.

Perez said the six English teams who withdrew were not convinced of the project and that their reluctance “infected the others."

He also claimed the Chelsea fans who demonstrated against the new league before Monday’s game against Brighton were an organised crowd but gave no information to back up his allegation.

Perez repeated his claims made 48 hours earlier that the top clubs were hemorrhaging money and needed the financial guarantees a new league would offer.

He compared football to tennis and said it needed more regular matchups like Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal.

And he dismissed the expanded Champions League due to start in 2024 as too little, too late.

The Champions League is obsolete, he said, “because it’s only of interest from the quarter-final stage.”

“We need to do this now. We can’t wait three years.”

“When all this is over the reality will come and we’ll see what happens. Clubs are going to lose more than 2 billion (Euros),” he said.

Perez’ appearance in the early hours of Thursday morning came 48 hours after he told another radio show the Super League was necessary to “save football.”

(Reporting by Andrew Downie in London; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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