The president of Spain’s La Liga has admitted he is attracted to the idea of forming a breakaway competition to rival the Champions League because it it constitutes a way of clubs making more mo
In July, the Dalian Wanda Group – which is owned by China’s richest man Wang Jianlin – confirmed it had started preliminary talks with clubs to create a new tournament which would rival the current competition run by Uefa.
Speaking to the Financial Times on Friday, Javier Tebas admitted that while no agreement had been reached, Spain’s leading clubs could be attracted by the idea as they struggle to compete with the mammoth domestic TV deals recently negotiated in England and Germany.
“If [European club competition] is reorganised as Wanda has set out, there is a greater opportunity to generate more revenue from audiovisual broadcasting,” he said.
Last week, Uefa, in a move regarded as aan attempt to stifle moves for a breakaway competition by Europe’s bigger clubs, announced that the top four leagues (currently Spain, Germany, England and Italy) will be guaranteed four automatic places in the Champions League group stage from the 2018-19 season onwards. However, Tebas criticised the changes and said they had made it more likely they could support a breakaway because the issue of more even distribution of broadcasting funds have not been addressed. Uefa, Tebas argues, is working against the interests of Spanish clubs rather working with them.
“We’ve also become more interested in [Wanda’s] proposal since Uefa announced they will be reforming [the Champions League], without seriously consulting — in detail — their broader reform plans with the other national leagues,” he said.
“With our strategy, we will even overtake the Premier League in terms of international deals. Therefore, both Spanish and English football fans will be pleased, as they will both get the chance to watch their games across the world. So long as Uefa does not destroy our business.”
Wanda, which already owns a 20% stake in last year’s beaten Champions league finalists Atlético Madrid, paid $1.2bn last year for Infront Media, the Swiss company led by Philippe Blatter – the nephew of former Fifa president Sepp Blatter. The Financial Times reports says they have been promoting a new tournament, with proposals including merging the Champions League and Europa League into one competition.
“The idea of unifying the two tournaments is not a bad one,” said Tebas. “But what is clear is we have to work something out with all the different national leagues and Uefa is not doing it.”