The G14 group, representing some of Europe’s leading clubs, has issued a statement outlining its plans for the future of European club football.
However, in one section entitled “Strategic Options”, the document states that “the top-level professional clubs should also maintain their future options by making preparations for the creation of a ‘European Professional League’ body to run top-level European international club competitions…”.
Under the same section, the G14, which represents 18 of Europe’s richest clubs, says clubs “would benefit from the creation of an international top professional clubs’ association in which G14 would play a leading role”.
In a telephone interview with Reuters, G14 general-secretary Thomas Kurth denied these statements were tantamount to a call for a split from European football’s governing body and the creation of an alternative Champions League.
“There are no plans for this in the foreseeable future,” he said. UEFA accuses the clubs of seeking only money and power but the G14 says it simply wants its members, which include Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich, to have a bigger say in the running of European soccer and revenue distribution.
“If there were the intention of a breakaway why would we do all this (consultation)?” said Kurth.
“We would just simply break away, but we do this because we don’t want to do that, and we don’t want a ring-fenced competition.”
Kurth said the G14 was committed to clubs only being included in the Champions League through “sporting results”.
“There is no such word like having a ‘guarantee’ to always be there. The only guarantee to be there is if you finish top of the domestic league.”
“They (the clubs) want to be part of it — but we don’t want to be locked out from the running of the competition.”
He added that G14 would like European football to develop on domestic lines with elite national leagues such as England’s Premier League evolving from within a governing body such as the Football Association.
In these circumstances, Kurth said, clubs had far more say in how they were run than in the Champions League where they only had a consultative role through the UEFA Clubs Forum.
The 30-page statement says an increase in Champions League “match days or possibly matches” would be beneficial.
It continues: “International club competitions represent an indispensable complement to the domestic competitions and therefore need to guarantee the participating clubs a reasonable number of matches so as to allow these top-level clubs the opportunity to effectively forward plan so that they can maximise their chances of a ‘return on investment’.”
In the interview, Kurth elaborated. “We definitely think the number (of matches) could be increased but G14 doesn’t say ‘it has to be like this’.
“There has to be a discussion where you integrate all the activities — the (football) calendar needs to be shaped in a way where there is a just balance.
“It is true our clubs think that 13 match days at international (club) level is not ideal. And there are different possibilities to go to 15 or to 17 but it needs to be within a balance.”
The document leaves the number of clubs within G14 open and Kurth said it would be a matter for continuing discussion for members. Its next full meeting is in May.