BARCELONA: Barcelona president Joan Laporta said Friday that a European Super League project could begin as soon as next season, adding that he does not care if English clubs join or not.
However various clubs Laporta suggested might form part of the league later responded by dismissing interest in the potential new competition.
Spanish giants Barcelona, along with Real Madrid, launched a Super League project in 2021 which quickly collapsed after fan and institutional fury, with the other clubs pulling out.
In December the European Union’s Court of Justice said world and European football governing bodies FIFA and UEFA had infringed competition law by blocking the breakaway league.
Super League promoters A22 Sports Management swiftly announced plans for a new 64-team tournament to compete with or replace UEFA’s Champions League.
“The Super League could start next season, or it will be in 2025-26, and if not, I will rethink everything,“ Laporta told RAC1 radio station.
Six Premier League clubs were part of the initial proposal but pulled out and have shown no intention of returning.
“I don’t care if the English teams join,“ added Laporta.
“They already have their Super League — the Premier League.”
Laporta said the project could begin with just 16 teams.
“The European Cup started in 1955 with very few clubs and later became the top competition in Europe,“ said Laporta.
“I imagine a first phase like this, and (more clubs) then integrating.”
The Barcelona president suggested options for the clubs who might join the league along with Madrid and Barca, including Inter Milan, AC Milan, Roma and Napoli from Italy.
Laporta named Porto, Sporting Lisbon and Benfica as potential participants from Portugal, Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven from the Netherlands, as well as French team Marseille and Belgian outfits Club Brugge and Anderlecht.
German giants Bayern Munich and French champions Paris Saint-Germain have criticised the Super League project and Laporta said they would not be involved.
– No ‘support’ –
Later Friday some of the clubs named by Laporta began to deny interest in participating.
“AS Roma reiterates that it does not support any project related to the so-called Super League,“ said the Italian side in a statement.
A source close to Inter Milan said the club’s potential participation was an “unfounded rumour”.
The Champions League runners-up said in a statement in December football’s wellbeing can only be secured by working “in partnership and collaboration with UEFA and FIFA” and the European Club Association (ECA).
A spokesman for Ligue 1 side Marseille denied any interest on the part of his side and reiterated comments made by club president Pablo Longoria in December.
“A closed league is not football — sporting meritocracy should earn you your position,“ Longoria had said.
“I don’t see a closed league as the future of European football.”
A European Super League has been touted as a creation for overspending clubs to improve their financial situation.
“The Super League means that you’re putting 100 million euros ($109 million) on the table for a club just for competing in the competition, at least, and you don’t even get that for winning the Champions League,“ said Laporta. – AFP