Football: Spanish La Liga chief dismisses European super league idea

Javier Tebas, president of La Liga speaks during the official launch of Spanish Football League La Liga office in Singapore on March 23, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

Singapore (AFP) - The president of Spain's La Liga on Thursday shot down suggestions for a European super league, saying it will likely face stiff resistance from national leagues and fans.

Javier Tebas dismissed reports that Spanish heavyweights Real Madrid were seeking the formation of an exclusive European league which would see a closed competition of 20 sides from the continent.

Madrid-based newspapers Marca and AS reported in February that Real was pushing for a European league after growing disgruntled with the Spanish league.

"The phenomena that there will be a Super League is never going to happen because the national leagues like English Premier League and Bundesliga in Germany, they are very consolidated," Tebas told AFP through a translator.

"It is impossible that the Spanish fans could accept that Real Madrid quits Spanish football," he added, pointing out that Real makes 70 per cent of its income from the Spanish market.

Tebas said the proposed super league made up of football giants over the continent would mean some clubs have to finish in "10th, 11th or 12th", and he does not see fans of these sides accepting such low rankings.

Tebas spoke to AFP on the sidelines of the launch of La Liga's office in Singapore as part of moves to expand their presence in South-east Asia, a football-crazy region of more than 600 million people.

La Liga already has offices in Dubai, China and India.

Aleksander Ceferin, president of European football's governing body Uefa, vowed on Wednesday that no super league will be formed under his watch, although media reports said major clubs were unofficially discussing the idea.

Some of the reports suggested that Real is unhappy with the disparity of income compared to English sides.

Tebas said however he was "sure" the Spanish League would catch up with the English Premier League economically in eight to ten years.

According to consulting firm Deloitte, English clubs generated €4.4 billion (S$6.6 billion) in revenues during the 2014-2015 season compared to €2.3 billion for the Bundesliga and €2.05 billion for La Liga.

"With our strategy now, we are reaching the international markets, we are going to reach this kind of effects soon," Tebas said.

He pointed out that La Liga had adjusted its match timings such that Asian audiences would be able to catch some matches late evenings instead of waiting until past midnight.

Tebas said one of the main reasons why La Liga chose to open an office in Singapore is the presence of Singaporean businessman Peter Lim, who owns Spanish top-flight club Valencia.

Valencia finished fourth at the end of Lim's first season, but slipped to 12th last season and are now languishing in 14th place with 10 more games to play.

Lim faced an open revolt in January when supporters took to the streets to call for his departure after a 4-1 Copa del Rey defeat by Celta Vigo and fans on social media rallied around the hashtag #LimGoHome.

However, Tebas backed Lim to lead to club back to glory and urged fans to have more patience.

"I can only speak well about Peter Lim. He is a man who saved Valencia from a very complicated economic situation," said Tebas.

"This is a typical kind of protest when the club is not doing well... But with Peter Lim, Valencia is going to be a champion-kind of team soon.

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