Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has talked about forming a new European League for the continent’s best clubs, which will reward them much more than the Champions League and Europa League currently do.
‘The system doesn’t work any more,’ argues De Laurentiis. ‘The Champions and Europa League don’t generate sufficient income for the clubs to justify participating in it.
‘To be competitive, you need more top-class players. That means you have to spend more money — and the prize money from the European competitions doesn’t account for that.
‘That is why the clubs need to speak to each other to come up with a more modern and lucrative tournament for everyone in it.
This is a problem that has been highlighted by Florentino Perez as well, when he came up with plans for the European Super League. Laurentiis’ plans, on the other hand, will base qualification in the new European tournament on merit.
‘We need to reduce the number of games by reducing the size of the top divisions across Europe. Also, we create a European league with a democratic system of entry, based on what teams achieve in their domestic competitions. I have examined a project ready to bring €10bn to the European game, but we need willingness and total independence.’
‘If we don’t change the rules of the game and make it a better spectacle, young people will abandon us and football will no longer be the central part of our lives,’ warned De Laurentiis, 72. ‘My research tells me that people between the ages of eight and 25 have stopped watching football and prefer playing with smartphones — they have totally transformed our children.
‘I’m not saying that the habit of watching live football in a stadium will die, but now we have the ‘virtual stadium’, which can attract billions of people to play games against each other.
Napoli are set to play Leicester City in the Europa League this week, and will begin the quest for the second European trophy in their history in the process.