UEFA Presidential candidate Aleksander Ceferin says rich-club Super League shouldn’t happen

Aleksander Ceferin said small clubs had been overlooked in the recent negotiations which led to major changes to UEFA's flagship competition.

Published:September 13, 2016 4:31 pm
uefa president, uefa presidential elections, uefa elections, uefa champions league, super league, europe big clubs, aleksander ceferin, michael van praag, uefa news, football news, sports news Aleksander Ceferin, 49, head of the Slovenian Soccer Federation and candidate for the UEFA presidency. European soccer federations will gather in Athens on Wednesday to elect a new UEFA president. (AP Photo)

A European Super League must not be allowed to happen and the gap between rich clubs and the rest must stop growing, UEFA presidential candidates Aleksander Ceferin told Reuters on Tuesday. Ceferin, a Slovenian lawyer who faces Dutchman Michael van Praag in Wednesday’s vote, said small clubs had been overlooked in the recent negotiations which led to major changes to UEFA’s flagship competition.

He added that he had first-hand experience of the problems facing smaller federations, coming from a country where professional players earn from 1,000 and 4,000 euros a month – a drop in the ocean compared to wages in England and Spain.

UEFA last month announced changes to its flagship Champions League competition, opening up more places to teams from Spain, England, Germany and Italy and cutting those allocated to the rest. It also increased suspicion that the big clubs ultimately wanted to form a breakaway Super League.

“First of all, we will do everything that Super League never happens,” Ceferin said. “I’m not sure if the clubs want a Super League, they are just pushing it with threats….and they succeeded.” Ceferin said he would make sure all clubs were consulted in the future.

“Those changes are clearly not in favour of small and mid-sized associations,” he said. “The process was not good. The clubs didn’t know anything about it and that should be changed in the future.”

But he did not want to say whether he would try and reverse the changes if elected on Wednesday, saying he did not want to be populist.

“We should look at it and see what we can do,” he said, adding that UEFA needed to tell the big clubs that smaller countries also mattered.

“We should tell them that the majority of good players in the world are not just from a few countries and that without including all the small ones football will lose,” he said. “The gap is wider and wider and I agree it will be worse and worse.”

Ceferin said that UEFA also needed to look at the way in which it distributes revenue. “It’s not easy because the revenue depends on results and television rights and I cannot pretend that UEFA gets the same amount of money for Slovenia than for Spain and Italy…it is a problem.”

He suggested the cross-border leagues could be set up but only for teams who had not qualified for the Champions League and Europa League. “They shouldn’t replace the national leagues, that is out of the question,” he said.

He has also proposed term limits for the UEFA president and members of the executive committee and wants fines handed out by UEFA’s disciplinary committee to be proportional to a team’s revenue. “You cannot stay in the same position for 20 years,” he said.  “If you fine San Marino or Gibraltar with 100,000 thousand euros, and fine one of the big ones that amount, it’s not the same.”