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Florentino Perez in Interview to AS: “Signing stars? The bigger worry will be keeping our best players”

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The Real Madrid president gave another interview, this time to Diario AS, on all things Super League highlighting the impact on clubs for the coming months and years.

Real Madrid And Mahou San Miguel Sponsorship Presentation Photo by Samuel de Roman/Getty Images

Florentino Perez has conducted yet another interview in the wake of the European Super League failure. This time the Real Madrid president spoke with Spanish publication, Diario AS, in a full ranging interview covering the launch of the project, the new economic reality, the impact on transfers, UEFA and La Liga’s behavior, as well as the impact to contract negotiations regarding TV deals. The full interview is transcribed below:

The current state of the Super League

The entity exists and the members who make up the Super League are there too. What we’ve done is given ourselves a few weeks to reflect on the hostility with which certain people who don’t want to lose their privileges have manipulated the project.

Regrets on the launch?

No, because, whether it was done one way or another, the reaction of these privileged few would have been the same. Back in January the president of UEFA sent out severe warning shots about the Super League. We wanted to talk through the details with UEFA, but they didn’t even give us time. An orchestrated, manipulated operation was organized, the likes of which I’ve never seen. I’ve never seen anything like it. We were forced to turn to the courts, who issued an injunction, enough said. The injunction orders UEFA and FIFA, and also the leagues and national football associations, to abstain from taking any measure or action, or issuing any statement or communication, that prevents the preparation of the Super League. In my opinion, this judgement ends UEFA’s monopoly. But despite it being issued on Tuesday, the president of UEFA continued with his threats on Wednesday. These are actions that go against free competition in the European Union, and that is very serious.

The main criticism - lack of sporting merit

Neither argument is true, rather, everything has been manipulated. It is not a plan which excludes clubs, nor is it detrimental to other leagues. The Super League project is the best possible solution, and it has been created to help football get out of the crisis. Football is severely damaged because its economy has been ruined and it has to adapt to the new era we are living in. The Super League does not go against domestic competitions and its objective is to ensure that more money is available for all sections of football. The concept is to generate more interest for the games. Nor do I think that the changes which UEFA have made are a real solution to the problem because what has been proposed isn’t even an improvement on the current model. Also, we cannot wait until 2024. But in any case, we must have done something badly. We are going to try to turn this around and develop more ideas. Maybe the solution is for the top four teams in every league to play. I don’t know, but something needs to be done because today’s youth, those between 14 and 24 years of age, are abandoning football because they see it as being boring compared to the other forms of entertainment that they prefer. There are four billion football fans all over the world and half of them are fans of the clubs in the Super League. Football is the only global sport.

Economic reality

Lets look at the data: a recent report by KPMG - in the first three months of the pandemic alone last season, the 12 clubs in the Super League reported losses of 650 million euros. By the end of this season, with the pandemic still ongoing, the losses will be between 2,000 and 2,500 million euros. Girondins Bordeaux have recently gone into administration. Either we do something soon or many more clubs will go under.

The reality is that football games which are more interesting, entertaining, and competitive will bring in more money. And that will be for everyone, not just for a few, because the national leagues will be worth more. And we will have major amounts for solidarity, which is an important part of the project.

We’ve been working on this project for three years and we’ve studied it in detail. The project is designed to bring back the interest of the fans, and that will bring in more money for everyone: big clubs, medium clubs and small clubs.

Binding Contract for the 12 Clubs?

I’m not going to take my time to explain what a binding contract is here. But the fact is, the clubs can’t leave. Some, because of the pressure, have had to say they’ll leave. But this project, or something very similar, will happen, and I hope it’s in the near future.

JP Morgan

JP Morgan have taken time to reflect, they are not out either, the Super League is the best project we’ve thought can be carried out. What we need to do is get the fans back, the youngsters. And to do that, changes have to be made. If UEFA want to do it with the project they announced the other day, well the truth is I didn’t understand it nor do I think it would be a good solution. What’s more, they want to start in 2024, and we’ll see which teams push back.

Real Madrid Punished and Banned from the UCL?

In the democratic Europe which we live in, nobody could think that is something that could happen.

What’s worse the loss of 2 billion euros between the 12 Super Clubs or the lack of engagement from fans that are 16-24 years old?

Both are equally worrying. That’s why we need to find solutions. That’s why we came up with the Super League.

Financial Fair Play and a Potential Salary Cap

To start with, without revenue there is nothing. Next up, it’s necessary to have a stable competition, with strict Financial Fair Play, which works, and allows competition on a level playing field, not like now with competition against state financed clubs. Real Madrid, for example, has just three sources of income: ticket sales, television and sponsors. And right now I’m even more worried, because the president of UEFA has just said in their Congress, this very week: “We need to free up investment and protect the people who economically support the clubs because of their passion for football and their love of their local community” They’ll explain to me how Madrid, a club owned by its members, can compete against a state financed club.

Do Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid’s Stadium renovations contradict their statements?

Both projects were started before the pandemic, which nobody expected. But, moreover, Atlético reached a great agreement with Madrid City Hall. And Real Madrid has financed the renovation of the Santiago Bernabéu over 30 years with incredible terms. The club’s delegates approved it because the renovation will bring in annual revenue of between 150 and 200 million euros. Meaning it will be highly profitable.

Three of Four UCL Semi-Finalists have Cash Injecting Owners...

I don’t want to judge anyone. But I would say to you that yes, we’re worried. But not because of what’s already happened, more because of what could happen. Because we’ve already seen what the president of UEFA has said. If the state financed clubs or rich owners can inject cash without limits it will be difficult to compete under equal conditions. That’s why transparency is necessary and to know where clubs’ revenue comes from.

Ceferin and Tebas Behavior

The president of UEFA’s behavior has been less than proper, even more so from the presidency of an institution that promotes football and its values. Everything that has happened has been lamentable, insults and threats included. The strength of it took us by surprise. All the ideas that I’m setting out in this interview I could personally explain to them.

Laporta Meal with Tebas

I don’t believe it, honestly. Laporta knows the Super League is the best solution because it gets back the passion for football and as a consequence the revenues. The economic situation is not going to give anyone a breather.

How Long do Super Clubs have Left?

Not long at all, and what’s more the teams will have to sell their best players and it’ll be less and less interesting. The pandemic is not just what we’ve suffered so far, but the economic effects it will cause.

Could this have been avoided had UEFA budged on TV Deals?

That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s set out in the Super League binding contracts. The 12 are in agreement, and others who appear to be against the project, but at the same time play in the basketball EuroLeague. Now is the time to put in the work and explain the project to people, to explain that it’s false to say it’s exclusive. We want to do the same as happened in basketball with the EuroLeague. But whenever there’s a change, even if it’s a change for the better, it gets met with rejection. The same happened when the national leagues were set up at a time when there only regional leagues, and of course when the European Cup was created, in 1955. But times change and people and the world evolve, and it’s necessary to adapt. Not only is it necessary, but what’s more it’s for the best. I’m not going to tell UEFA what to do, but I think they should change, because it’s necessary to create tournaments that are more intense and more competitive.

Impact on the Transfer Market — will City and PSG reign supreme?

It’s important for everything to be transparent and for the origin of the funds to be visible. For example, for sponsorship to be what it really is, and not what it seems to be. And if everything gets better, well that will be good for everyone. In the group of 12 there are clubs with millionaire owners who have understood the point.

Big Clubs in Spain — Can they hold on to Stars?

The problem won’t be being able to sign, it will be holding onto squads. Let’s see if nobody is forced to sell their best players! The footballers could end up in those teams with unlimited resources, over and above the three sources of income I mentioned earlier.

Tebas vs the Big Three

That’s not what is important. What I need to explain is that the bulk of the resources for LaLiga come from Real Madrid, Barça and Atlético Madrid. That’s the truth. Going against who gives you the most doesn’t seem very normal, but as there are historic privileges already acquired, well people get confused.

When will the Super League proceed?

As soon as possible. We need to do it before it’s too late. We can’t endure four years, because if things carry on like this... I’ll tell you the report from KPMG, for all the clubs, is devastating for football.

TV rights being renewed for Less in Italy?

The same will happen in Spain and in England. The next round of contracts will be lower unless we remedy the situation by increasing the competitiveness of, and the interest in, the games. Otherwise, the youngsters will go to other platforms which entertain them more and which are working day in day out to give them what they want and win them over as new clients. The result will be that our audience falls and keeps falling.

UEFA’s new format — convinced?

The truth is, no. Not the format, that nobody understands, not the time period, because by 2024 we will all be dead. Either we fix this now, or all the clubs go bankrupt. There will be a mutiny of the teams as they go bankrupt, because the only ones who will survive will be state financed clubs or who have multimillionaire owners, who are willing, for their own entertainment, to lose hundreds of millions of euros each season.