Aurelio De Laurentiis agrees the Champions League and Europa League should be abolished but warns Andrea Agnelli’s plans will ‘drive away’ fans.
Agnelli, in his role as President of the European Club Association, wants to implement a continental competition with promotion and relegation, but critics argue that it threatens the existence of national Leagues.
“Agnelli’s a smart man, I don’t want to believe he has a tournament like this in mind, which would be belittling for the rest of European football,” De Laurentiis told Corriere della Sera.
“It’s a formula that could prove to be effective at an early stage, but ultimately it would drive away a fair chunk of fans from the world of football.
“What worries me is that we’re talking about reform, starting from the three-year period of 2024-2027.
“It's like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted and eventually the number of fans following games will decrease dramatically.
“The kids are breaking away, taken only by video games. The speed and pace of these games are not played in a real game.
“Instead of making wars between the ECA, UEFA and European Leagues, we should be innovating football.”
So what does the Napoli owner have in mind as an alternative?
“First of all I’d solve piracy, then I’d encourage stadiums to go up all over Italy, modifying existing law with more streamlined procedures and legislation, aimed at creating economic balance, both in managing stadia and clubs as a whole.
“The Champions League and Europa League must be abolished. I’d instead have a single tournament, divided into 80 teams, whereby the top seven teams in Italy, France, England, Germany and Spain enter, as well as the top four in Portugual, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and the other [European] Leagues.
“Teams would be divided into four groups of 20, with 19 matchdays for each group. They would be dry games, with locations drawn at random to establish the team who play first at home and start the campaign.
“I’d call it the European Cup. Games would be played on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, therefore respecting the national Leagues that are played over the weekend.
“I’d reach an agreement between the ECA and European Leagues, giving five percent of revenue to UEFA to pay for the professionals who help organise tournaments.”