LaLiga president Javier Tebas has again accused Uefa and the European Club Association of conspiring to reform the Champions League in a manner that would harm European domestic leagues.
In an article which first appeared in Spanish in El Mundo’s print edition on Saturday, Tebas said: “ECA and Uefa are working together to create a SuperChampions League without taking into consideration the domestic leagues, who, as competition organisers, defend the collective interests of all professional clubs. These collective interests do not always coincide with the interests of individual clubs,” he said.
“Uefa and ECA are planning a competition which in the medium-long term will damage football since it is a concrete threat to the domestic leagues. Uefa and ECA want to divide the rich from the poor since solely 32 clubs will get the tickets to play in the money-making competition.”
The Uefa Executive Committee and ECA Executive Board launched the process to restructure Uefa Club competitions post-2024 at the ECA General Assembly last week. ECA chairman Andrea Agnelli fuelled rumours that promotion and relegation could be introduced in the Uefa Champions League when he said such a move ‘might be logical’ at a press conference during the event. Such a reform that would cut across the principle of qualification being achieved through placings in domestic leagues and could protect the participation of the biggest clubs in the competition on a more consistent basis.
A LaLiga spokesperson told SportBusiness that Tebas’ comments were a response to statements made at the assembly and discussions with other sources.
This is not the first time Tebas has criticised Uefa and the ECA of acting against the interests of domestic leagues. In March he accused them of plotting to schedule European games on weekends, instead of their current mid-week slots, and of expanding the Champions League group stages from eight groups of four teams to four groups of eight.
In his latest criticism, Tebas said: “The big clubs have put great pressure on Uefa to reform the UCL [Uefa Champions League] so as to distribute even more money to a small group of already super-rich clubs.
“ECA and Uefa are talking about new formats, a new calendar and match dates, to play on weekends while envisaging new revenue figures. They are doing so without considering the real effect over their own business and moreover, the overall development of football.
“The speculations about figures are absolutely crazy. We heard about €900m to be distributed to each participating club of this envisaged SuperChampions. This is simply crazy and stupid.”
Tebas also accused the ECA of acting in the interests of the most powerful European teams rather than all of its 232 members clubs.
“We all know ECA represents the interests of a few,” he said. “There’s no real debate within the ECA. Everything is decided by the top 12 clubs and the rest of the clubs have to accept the consequences without any possibility of expressing their voices. The ECA and Uefa are selling the idea to clubs, federations and the public, that their position is shared and backed by all clubs. But this is a big lie.”
Uefa and the ECA have always denied planning to introduce more weekend Champions League fixtures. Agnelli reiterated this at last week’s assembly when he alluded to earlier discussions between the ECA Executive Board and the Uefa Executive Committee: “The word ‘weekend’ has never been used, so I don’t really understand where that is coming from. The word weekend has never been used,” he said.
SportBusiness approached Uefa and the ECA for comment on Tebas’ statement. The ECA declined to respond and Uefa referred to a statement it had issued to rebut the LaLiga president’s earlier criticisms.
“As is often the case, Mr Tebas speaks on the basis of mostly erroneous information and it is therefore difficult for us to comment on his declarations.
“He would probably be in possession of more accurate information, had he not resigned from the Professional Football Strategy Council.
“Uefa will consult stakeholder groups in the coming months to discuss ideas and exchange views regarding the future of European competitions.
“Such consultation will serve as the basis to draw up concrete proposals that will be thoroughly analysed before any decisions are made.”