Pique: ESL would destroy football’s ecosystem

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has said the proposed plans for a European Super League were unsustainable and would have destroyed the entire football ecosystem.

Barca were one of the 12 founding members of the project and have not yet withdrawn their support for it. However, with the exception of Real Madrid, the other teams involved — including all six English clubs and Atletico Madrid — have taken a step back to leave the competition in tatters just three days after it was launched.

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Sources told ESPN on Sunday that New York-based investment bank JP Morgan was prepared to underwrite the project, with around €5 billion distributed as loans to the teams.

Pique said he understands Barca’s participation due to the money on offer and the club’s financial problems, but added that he could not support the plans due to the potential damage they would have on the game.

“I would say it’s not a positive decision for football in the long-term,” Pique told Movistar in an interview pre-recorded on Tuesday and aired on Wednesday.

“They’re saying that the domestic leagues are going to stay and remain competitive. But the numbers don’t fit. At the moment, the Champions League is getting €3.5 billion in TV revenue and they say the Super League could [eventually] triple revenue for the clubs.

“If you speak with specialists and experts in TV rights, they will tell you that this change is not possible because the money’s not there for it on the market.

“So, at first, they say the domestic leagues are going to stay, but the years are going to pass and then the banks and investment funds that have put in their money projecting this revenue are going to [want to see a return].

“And when it doesn’t arrive, the clubs will have to make a decision because there will be losses because it’s not sustainable. And the clubs will decide there will have to be weekend games and they will leave their domestic leagues. And there will be a competition Wednesday-Saturday.

“That’s how I see it. That it will slowly eat into the domestic leagues’ revenue stream. And that’s how the numbers add up. You’re destroying the whole system to achieve it.

“Do we want this for football? Is that what we want? That Sevilla, Valencia, Everton, Leicester, Napoli etc disappear? Because those clubs are going to end up becoming worth nothing. That’s where we are going.”

Pique, who owns Andorra, a third-division Spanish club, and is the founder and president of Kosmos, the company that overhauled tennis’ Davis Cup, admitted that the current model does need changing, though.

“I’m not saying current set up is perfect,” he added. “It’s clear the model has to change. We have to find the balance for the big teams to coexist with the not-so-big teams.

“In La Liga and in UEFA, bigger teams should carry more weight somehow. Maybe more votes or more revenue. But to break everything, to break the ecosystem… you ruin jobs.

“There are what, 400 players in each of the top five leagues? Plus Holland, Belgium etc. If you have a 20-team [European Super] League, there won’t be as many people living off football.”