MILAN: The plan to create a breakaway Super League was not a coup but a way to save the soccer industry, which has been dramatically hit by the coronavirus pandemic, European Super League founder and Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli said on Friday.
"The Super League is not a coup, but a desperate cry of alarm for a system that, knowingly or not, is heading towards insolvency," Agnelli said at a news conference organised to bid farewell to Juve's outgoing sporting director Fabio Paratici.
"For years I have tried to change European competitions from the inside, because the signs of crisis were evident even before the pandemic," Agnelli added.
Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid are the last ones standing of the 12 clubs that signed up to the breakaway project in April, only for it to unravel when all six English sides plus Inter Milan, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid withdrew.
Unlike in the Champions League, where teams have to qualify through the domestic league, the founding Super League teams guaranteed themselves a place in the new competition every year.
The Super League argued it would boost revenue for top clubs and allow them to distribute more money to the rest of the game.
However, the sport’s governing bodies, other teams and fan organisations countered that it would increase the power and wealth of the elite clubs and the partially closed structure of the league went against European football's long-standing model.
UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings against the three remaining Super League clubs last month, prompting them to issue joint statements saying they would not bow down to pressure from the governing body.
"It is not with this type of behaviour that football is reformed in the face of this crisis. Fortunately, I know that not everyone in UEFA feels the same way. The desire for dialogue, however, remains unchanged," Agnelli said.
"Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid are determined to achieve a complete reform of the competitions, and above all, in the interest of the clubs that show us fear for this situation."
(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Toby Davis)