Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo fears the sport will undergo drastic changes if it is halted again due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with only Europe’s richest teams in a position to survive and play in a league of their own.

A plot to form a $6 billion breakaway European Super League was reported by Sky News last year with leading clubs from the continent’s top leagues said to be working on a project, although the notion was ultimately dismissed by club chiefs.

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Nuno said another COVID-19 hiatus would result in clubs taking the leap to look at viable options to keep them afloat after taking a financial hit during the pandemic.

“If we stop everything will change. A new football will come,” Nuno told reporters ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League home game against Everton.

“We will probably have a Super League, probably other competitions. It’ll be a matter of which clubs will survive. It’s a tough decision to make.

“I don’t know what is better. What I’m afraid of is if the decision is to stop, football we know now will not be the same. This is my biggest fear.”

The Premier League was suspended for three months last season from March to June which resulted in an August finish and a delayed start to the 2020-21 campaign.

However, that solution will not be feasible this season with the postponed European Championship set to begin in June.

“The schedule will go crazy and it’ll be impossible to even finish the league and think about the Euros. If you stop for ‘x’ weeks, you need ‘x’ weeks to restart,” Nuno added.

“I’m really concerned we cannot move forward and go back to a normal situation. The virus and pandemic is affecting things a lot, the increase of cases is growing in a scary way. This is what my main concern is.”

Nuno’s comments come on the same day the Premier League announced 36 new positive cases in the latest round of COVID testing.

“The Premier League can today confirm that between Monday 4 January and Sunday 10 January, across two rounds of testing, 2,593 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, there were 36 new positive tests,” the league said in a statement.