Galatasaray chairman says European clubs plan own league

Galatasaray chairman says European clubs plan own league

LONDON - The Associated Press
Galatasaray chairman says European clubs plan own league

Galatasaray's chairman Ünal Aysal (C) speaks in a conference of leading football executives with Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli (L) and former Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow (R). AA photo

European clubs are in talks about launching a new continental competition that could replace UEFA's Champions League, according to Galatasaray's chairman.

At a conference of leading football executives, Ünal Aysal said he is hoping a 20-team continental super league can launch after 2018 when UEFA's current agreement with the European Club Association expires.

"It's the future of football. It has to be created, and not in 10 years, but as soon as possible," Aysal said. "Football is a great industry, a growing industry. A European super league would bring a lot of support and energize football in general.

"I think it would be 20 big teams, with three to five teams changing every year. It can be fixed in a way to be useful to European football and bring new horizons by football. It can be controlled by UEFA or the clubs, preferably by the clubs."

The 214-member ECA, which includes Turkish champion Galatasaray, said the plan outlined by Aysal has never been discussed within the organization.

"Our European Super League is the UEFA Champions League!" ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in a statement. "We are very happy with the current competitions and our extremely fruitful collaboration with UEFA. We will continue to work together with UEFA, and this beyond 2018."

At the Leaders in Football Conference, Aysal said the plans for the league were not fully developed.

"The system has to be put in place, either by UEFA or by the clubs themselves, then we will decide if a breakaway will be a necessity or not," Aysal said. "It's not yet totally elaborated and prepared and put on the paper. But it is a concept that is under discussion for a few years."

Aysal said unnamed financial backers are already being lined up.

"I spoke personally with some sponsors we are working with," he said. "They looked at the idea very positively. International companies. Two of them were big brands."