Real Madrid president Florentino Perez doubles down on desire for European Super League

At Real Madrid’s annual general meeting Sunday, club president Florentino Perez doubled down on the failed European Super League, saying it is needed for soccer to retain its position as the most popular sport in the world. Perez was one of the backers of the breakaway league that attempted to launch in April of 2021, and he believes that more matches between high profile European clubs is needed to keep growing the sport’s overall revenue. Barcelona and Juventus have been the other three clubs to maintain public support for the project but Real Madrid are in a different position from the two.

Los Blancos have relatively balanced accounts in comparison to Barcelona pulling financial levers to register new signings and Juventus reportedly not having enough money to move on from Max Allegri in the midst of a disappointing start to the season.

“Football is sick. Young people are less and less interested. We are losing the global entertainment battle. If UEFA was responsible for world tennis, we would only see a [Rafael] Nadal vs. [Roger] Federer match twice or thrice,” Perez said. “Nadal-Djokovic has been played 59 times. Is that boring? Real Madrid and Liverpool, only nine times in 67 years. What’s the point of depriving fans of these matches?”

There has to be a balance between top domestic and Europan clashes, which is what would be lost in a European Super League scenario. With tennis being an individual or duo sport, it’s different than what soccer has to offer as a team oriented sport. 

“We were top in all sports, and now we’ve fallen to 13th,” Perez said, citing a Forbes ranking for the most valuable clubs in the world. “We’ve been overtaken by 12 clubs from American sports. They must be doing something very well in the United States and very badly in Europe … Football is losing the global entertainment battle against other sports and other platforms.”

It’s true that American sports teams are rising in value, boosted by the 2026 World Cup being hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, and Los Angeles Rams all have stadiums that will be hosting World Cup games. For the Cowboys and Rams, their stadiums are considered to be state of the art compared to those around the world, which adds to team value. In soccer, ground shares and not owning your stadium are common which detracts from a team’s overall value.

Perez’s Real Madrid side are still the top soccer team on that list valued at $5.1 billion, but he believes that the league is needed to vault them into first place.

“The Super League would not be a closed competition, as it would have 25 % of its places open. Recently, the ECA (European Clubs Association) president said that Real Madrid are afraid of ECA. Maybe we should remind the ECA president who Real Madrid are,” Perez said in response to PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who is against a Super League. “Competition is in our DNA and the club have a responsibility to protect football as a whole and that means not accepting threats from wherever they come from.”

That’s only partially true as the original plan would see the founding members of the Super League be immune from relegation. Overall, 20 teams would be involved with 15 being immune from relegation. The chance that every team has to fall out of a Champions League place would create a system devoid of competition. For clubs in smaller leagues like Ajax and Celtic, a Super League would shut them out in a way that Champions League and Europa League doesn’t. 

Perez’s want for a Super League won’t go away anytime soon but he will need to create an open system if it is to get across the line without competition. Some of the issues with the Champions League will already be resolved with it moving to the Swiss model in 2023, creating more consistent matchups between the biggest teams in a league format instead of the group stage.

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