Top European soccer clubs have discussed changing the Champions League to ensure the elite are always in it and the likes of Premier League leaders Leicester City are not, according to a U.S. sports executive involved in the talks, as reported by The Guardian.
Charlie Stillitano, chairman of Relevent Sports, met with Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis, Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano and Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre at London’s Dorchester Hotel.
Ostensibly to discuss this year’s International Champions Cup (ICC), an annual preseason friendly tournament that’s organised by Relevant Sports.
However, Stillitano confirmed on Thursday that they also talked about restructuring the Champions League, an issue high on the European Club Association (ECA) agenda amid a power vacuum at UEFA.
Further, talks are taking place within the European Club Association discussing the possibility of automatic Champions League places for the biggest and most prestigious teams in Europe.
Stillitano explained that the restructured competition would serve only the football club who have generated the most money for the game and have the biggest fan bases, while smaller clubs such as Premier League leaders Leicester City, Eredivisie’s PSV Eindhoven and Belgian champions AA Ghent would not be invited.
“What would Manchester United argue: did we create soccer or did Leicester create it?” Stillitano told US radio station SiriusXM.
“Let’s call it the money pot created by soccer and the fandom around the world. Who has had more of an integral role, Manchester United or Leicester? (Leicester is) a wonderful, wonderful story but you could see it from Manchester United’s point of view too.”
“When they came up with the Champions League, the idea wasn’t to have PSV and Ghent playing in the knockout stage.”