The Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Masters, has condemned plans for a breakaway European Super League as “destructive to the value of domestic football across Europe”.
In his strongest intervention yet to the €6bn plan, which would see 15 founding clubs receiving between €100m and €350m for joining, Masters said he was intrinsically opposed to a system where the battle for promotion and relegation barely matters.
“Any proposal that I’ve read about or heard about doesn’t have access via domestic leagues, or if it does, it is at the bottom end of the pyramid,” he said. “So that will be destructive to the value of domestic football across Europe, not just the Premier League.”
Masters insisted that he is not opposed to some reform of the Champions League. However, speaking at the FT Business of Football summit, he warned that the Premier League would bring a number of “key principles” to any negotiation, including protecting weekends when domestic football is played and ensuring that “the qualification for those big competitions is principally through domestic leagues and cup competitions”.
He also made clear that the Premier League would not reduce the number of teams to 18 to create space for significantly more European fixtures. “The English football calendar is jam-packed,” he said. “I think for the foreseeable future, the Premier League is a 20-club competition.”
“The Premier League isn’t resistant to change,” he added. “But what we are looking for is a continuation of a very strong relationship between European football and domestic football which doesn’t tip the balance one way or the other.”
The Super League plan, being pushed by Real Madrid and Barcelona, has also been condemned by Christian Seifert, the chief executive of the Bundesliga. On Wednesday he said: “The brutal truth is that a few of these so-called super clubs are in fact poorly-managed, cash-burning machines that were not able, in a decade of incredible growth, to come close to a sustainable business model.”
Masters appeared bullish about a domestic TV rights deal for the Premier League between 2022-2025, which is expected to be concluded this year, saying he does not expect a big drop from the current £5bn deal. “I accept that we’re in a challenging environment,” he said. “I don’t accept that things have plateaued or that we’re looking at a downward curve.”
He signalled that he hoped some crowds could return to stadiums in the coming months. “This pandemic has a way of surprising you, as it did over Christmas, but we’ve not lost hope we will see a few back this season. Certainly next season I hope it opens up quickly.”