Barcelona president Joan Laporta maintained his support for the Super League on Thursday, despite the rapid exit of 10 of the 12 founding clubs in the breakaway race.
The Super League, which provoked a backlash from other clubs, fans and authorities across Europe, was announced by a dozen top clubs in England, Spain and Italy on Sunday, but it quickly collapsed and is now officially supported only by Barcelona and Real Madrid.
“This is absolutely necessary,” Laporta said on Catalan public television in his first public comments on the project. “The biggest clubs create the most financial resources and we have to have our say in deciding how to distribute the profits.”
The six English clubs taking part in the competition withdrew on Tuesday amid an escalating reaction from their supporters and warnings from the British government. A day later, the Spanish club Atletico Madrid and the three Italian teams in the project – Juventus, Milan and Inter Milan – also gave up.
Although left almost alone, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez – presumably the first chairman of the competition – said late Wednesday that the idea was not dead, but rather on standby.
Both Juventus and AC Milan left the possibility of joining the Super League at a later stage in their statements on Wednesday.
Barcelona’s finances have been hit hard by the pandemic, which has complicated budget problems, which were already burdened by football’s highest salary last season. Laporta’s financial challenges include trying to persuade Lionel Messi to sign a new contract when it expires this year.
The 12 elite clubs wanted to increase their revenues by cutting UEFA out of the equation and replacing the Champions League with a new tournament of 20 teams.
“There was pressure on some clubs, but the offer still stands,” said Laporta. “We have very important investments, our salaries are very high and they must be taken into account, along with sports merits.”
Barcelona’s participation was conditioned by Laporta’s promise to let the club members vote on the proposal.
“We are cautious,” said Laporta. “It is a necessity, but the members of our club will have the last word.”
Laporta seemed open to changing the most controversial part of the project – locking in the 15 founding clubs and leaving only five places to open for other teams to join each season.
“It has to be an attractive competition based on the merits won on the field,” Laporta said. “We are defending our national leagues and open dialogue with UEFA.”
While Laporta spoke in Barcelona, the other clubs in the Spanish league, which are not involved in the Super League project, met by video conference with league president Javier Tebas to form a common front against the new competition. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico were not invited to the match.
“I think Barcelona have bigger problems than taking over other clubs in Spain and Europe to defend the Super League, which is already dead,” said Tebas.
But Tebas spared his strongest criticism of the president of Real Madrid, credited as project manager.
“If they say the Super League will save football, they are lying or wrong,” Tebas said. “Florentino Perez is lying. This cannot help football because it would destroy national championships. “