Spanish football boss backs Chinese Champions League rival
The head of Spain's La Liga has come out in support of plans by China's richest man to launch a rival to the Champions League. Dalian Wanda Group, the property and entertainment conglomerate run by billionaire Wang Jialin, wants to create a tournament for Europe's top clubs. Javier Tebas said there was a 'greater opportunity to generate more revenue' under the breakaway plans.
Wanda's plan is to replace both the Champions League and the Europa League by a tournament that would feature more than the 32 top teams in the Champions League, but fewer than the 64 in the two tournaments combined.
What is behind all this is Spanish concern about the extent to which England and Germany are gaining a competitive advantage under their new broadcasting deals. A related although distinct issue is the extent to which the hegemony of the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona is being challenged by well-funded 'insurgent' clubs like Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.
Mr Tebas also thinks that Uefa have ridden roughshod over the national leagues in their planned changes to the Champions League. He told the Financial Times, 'We've also become more interested in [Wanda's] proposal since Uefa announced they will be reforming [the Champions League], without seriously consulting - in detail - their broader reform plans with the other national leagues.'
His intervention gives more credence to Wanda's plans, but they are still unlikely to get off the ground. They provide a pressure point for clubs and leagues to try and modify Uefa's plans to their liking. The Champions League is too established a brand for it to be easily replaced. The worst case scenario would be two rival leagues, but that is very unlikely.