Pep Guardiola says domestic leagues and cups cannot be lost after fresh reports surfaced over the formation of a European Super League.
A document seen by The Times says the 15 founder clubs in the 20-team breakaway competition, slated to start in 2022-23, would be offered £310m each just to join and then up to £213m per season thereafter.
The Premier League’s ‘big six’ – including Guardiola’s club Manchester City – are reported to be among the planned founder members, but the Catalan expressed fears about how any continental league might impact on domestic action.
“I have the feeling we cannot lose the local leagues, what it means for the FA Cup, the leagues,” he said.
“What we should do is make every single league in Europe stronger than what it is, less teams, better championships, better League One, better League Two, better Premier League with less teams in every competition. Go to the quality
“To make a super Premier League, you have to reduce the teams, but we cannot kill the lower divisions or the Premier League itself.”
Football’s world governing body FIFA and the six continental confederations have publicly rejected the breakaway competition, with the threat of a ban from the World Cup for any players that take part.
Former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu dramatically announced in his farewell speech in October the club intended to join a new European Super League.
Speaking this week, Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said his club would turn down an invitation to a European Super League if one were made.
The reports come at a time when agreement on the format for the Champions League from 2024 onwards appears closer than ever.
A UEFA proposal for a 32 or 36-team league, where each team plays 10 matches in a so-called Swiss system, is understood to be the favoured model, although it appears there remains some disagreement over how many clubs should qualify via Europe for the following season’s Champions League.
The European Leagues group, which is part of the discussions on format, has opposed the idea of the four semi-finalists qualifying for the next season, and has publicly stated it should continue to only be the winners who qualify that way.
It does appear to have accepted the idea of 10 European matches in the autumn though compared to the current six group stage games.
Neville: European Super League talks obscene
Speaking late last year, Gary Neville said the idea of a European Super League is “another wound for football” and criticised the timing of talks during a pandemic as “obscene”.
Reports suggested more than a dozen teams from England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain were in negotiations about becoming founder members of the competition, with financiers assembling a $6billion (£4.6billion) funding package to assist its creation.
Neville, who joined an eight-strong group calling for independent regulation of English football, has spoken passionately about the need for reform and is calling for a fairer distribution of football’s wealth.
He told Sky Sports News: “The big issue that I have with it, is that at this moment in time, in the middle of a pandemic and when football is on its knees at so many different levels – the FA, EFL clubs and non-League clubs are struggling – the idea that a $6billion package is being put together to set-up a new league when lower clubs are scrambling around to pay wages and stay in existence.
“It’s another wound for football. It doesn’t feel like the right time to be talking about this.
“I’m for progression of football, with new competitions and new formats, but we have got to look after the fabric of the game and what it means to the communities in this country.
“There is a position, potentially, for a new European League and for an amazing Premier League, a fantastically competitive EFL and funded grassroots and non-league football. There is enough money.
“If they can pull $6bn together for a European league then they can pull together £150-£200m to save the rest of football in this country.”