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Napoli president suggests European Super League ‘replacement’ in restructure – Manchester Evening News

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has claimed he is working on a new £8.5billion proposal to change the format of European football.

De Laurentiis — known as ‘ADL’ in Italy — is a prominent film producer and has been the owner and chairman of Napoli since 2004. He believes the promise of European competition has forced clubs to spend beyond their means to stay competitive, a model that is unsustainable and threatening to clubs throughout the pyramid.

He disagreed with the European Super League proposals – that were ditched in April – based on the premise that clubs of high standing were to be involved without having earned a spot and would ensure any European league under his stewardship would be subject to clubs’ performances.

“The system doesn’t work anymore,’ argued De Laurentiis in an interview with Sportsmail. “The Champions and Europa League don’t generate sufficient income for the clubs to justify participating in it.

“To be competitive, you need more top-class players. That means you have to spend more money — and the prize money from the European competitions doesn’t account for that.

“That is why the clubs need to speak to each other to come up with a more modern and lucrative tournament for everyone in it.

“We need to reduce the number of games by reducing the size of the top divisions across Europe. Also, we create a European league with a democratic system of entry, based on what teams achieve in their domestic competitions. I have examined a project ready to bring €10bn to the European game, but we need willingness and total independence.”

The 72-year-old bought Napoli in 2004 when the historic club were in the third division of Italian football and in danger of liquidation. Since then, Napoli have established themselves as genuine title contenders in Serie A, going closest in the 2017/18 season propelled by the goals of Dries Mertens.

However, the Belgian could not lift them above Juventus. The Old Lady had dominated Italian football for a decade until Inter Milan reached the summit for the first time last campaign since winning the treble under Jose Mourinho in 2010.

De Laurentiis has expressed his desire for Italians to ‘learn from’ English football but harbours the same fears as Super League chief Florentino Perez about youngsters being uninterested in football. The Real Madrid president’s statement prompted a major backlash in the UK, with thousands of football fans – including those of Manchester United and Man City – protesting against his audacious plans to reform European football.

“If we don’t change the rules of the game and make it a better spectacle, young people will abandon us, and football will no longer be the central part of our lives,” added De Laurentiis. “My research tells me that people between the ages of eight and 25 have stopped watching football and prefer playing with smartphones — they have totally transformed our children.

“I’m not saying that the habit of watching live football in a stadium will die, but now we have the ‘virtual stadium’, which can attract billions of people to play games against each other.

“Who knows if we will manage to get them back down the route of the greatest and most influential sport in the world?”

He suggested that top divisions in Europe need to be cut to fewer teams, as there are too many games played for the biggest clubs with the domestic league and cup competitions on top of European commitments.

“We need to reduce the number of games by reducing the size of the top divisions across Europe. Also, we create a European league with a democratic system of entry, based on what teams achieve in their domestic competitions.

“I have examined a project ready to bring €10bn to the European game, but we need willingness and total independence.”

If these proposals were to be given the green light by Europe’s biggest clubs, there would undoubtedly be a seismic shakeup to the pyramid of English football.

It is unclear how many teams he would propose to cut from the Premier League. Still, it would have a devastating effect on the integrity of a pyramid that prides itself on competition and the right for all professional clubs to reach the first division. City and United withdrew from the Super League under significant pressure from their fanbases and the British public. It remains to be seen whether these proposals will evoke a similar reaction.

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