Barcelona's Joan Laporta says Super League needed but wants dialogue with UEFA
BARCELONA – Barcelona president Joan Laporta said a European Super League is needed but stressed he does not wish to see the formation of a closed competition and wants to keep an open dialogue with the continent's organising body UEFA.
Barca were among 12 teams to sign up to the proposed breakaway league on Sunday and have yet to withdraw from it despite all six English clubs plus Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan saying they no longer want to be involved.
Laporta was elected as Barca president in March for the second time. His predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed back in October he had signed the Catalans up to the project, becoming the first major figure to speak about it publicly.
"We will speak more about it when the time comes but for now we understand there is a need for it, even though our members will have the final say," Laporta told Catalan network TV3 on Thursday while at the Barcelona Open tennis tournament.
"Big clubs contribute a lot of resources and it's absolutely necessary that we have our say on the distribution of money (in European football)."
The European Super League said on Sunday that it aimed to have 15 founding members, with five other clubs qualifying each season.
The Super League argued it would increase revenue for the top soccer clubs in Europe and allow them to distribute more money to the rest of the game.
However, the sport's governing bodies, other teams and fan organisations said the league would only boost the power and wealth of elite clubs, and that the partially closed structure went against European football's long-standing model.
Laporta appeared to suggest that every team had to earn the right to be in it.
"It must be an attractive competition based on sporting merits. We also will defend national leagues and we're open to having an open dialogue with UEFA," he said.
Barca's net debt rose to €488 million ($586 million) last year, more than doubling due to the coronavirus pandemic, although US business magazine Forbes has ranked them as the most valuable club in the world at $4.76 billion.
"We always want to improve football and have the necessary revenues to ensure football remains a spectacle. If the big clubs don't continue to have large revenues then football will suffer," Laporta added.
But La Liga president Javier Tebas said elite clubs such as Barca should focus on controlling their spiralling spending levels instead.
"The Super League is practically finished. The clubs should focus on managing their financial problems just like any other business does when their revenues fall," Tebas said.
"I'd tell Laporta the figures he has been shown are not accurate."