LaLiga president Javier Tebas has heavily criticised Uefa’s plans to reform the Champions League and has put his full support behind Fifa’s proposal for a quadrennial Club World Cup.
Speaking to Reuters, Tebas accused the European governing body and the European Club Association 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. Both measures, he said, would damage domestic competitions.
“Uefa and the ECA are negotiating behind closed doors so that the others don’t know about the reforms which put national leagues in danger,” Tebas said.
Uefa president Aleksander Čeferin promised to work with the ECA to “design the club competitions of the future” after he was re-elected unopposed at Uefa’s annual congress in Rome in February.
There have been persistent rumours that several large clubs from the European mainland are calling for more Champions League games on weekends, which would enable the competition to introduce split kick off times and thereby generate larger media revenues from overseas markets.
ECA and Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli stated his preference for expanding the Champions League to four groups of eight teams in an interview with the Guardian last May. He proposes the top clubs should play more European games and fewer games in their national leagues, and the reduction of the number of clubs and even divisions in domestic leagues.
“We are moving away from Uefa because it is modifying the Uefa Champions League without consulting national leagues and in secret with ECA,” a LaLiga spokesperson told SportBusiness.
“We are opposed to the Uefa / ECA plans because they threaten national leagues and the foundation of football in various ways. They concentrate wealth in just a few clubs and increase the gap between rich and poor, further destabilising competitions; they propose international [Champions League] matches on weekends, destroying long held footballing traditions, and they propose teams to play in European competitions based on an outdated historic coefficient, not current performance,” the spokesperson added.
Having initially opposed Fifa president Gianni Infantino’s proposals for a Club World Cup, LaLiga has now backed the concept. Although Fifa has yet to reveal the investors behind the new competition, LaLiga said the global federation has agreed to full transparency at a later stage.
“We need to see how the plans advance, but we like how they’re taking shape. This looks to be a Club World Cup that will support federations and leagues small and large,” the spokesperson told SportBusiness. “The plans are now being discussed in an open way, there’s no longer an unknown fund behind it, instead it will be brought to market transparently. Plus, the commitment to play only every four years after our regular season ends means it won’t affect our calendar much.”
Uefa provided SportBusiness with a written statement rebutting Tebas’s 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.”