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Steve Parish says ‘greatest enemy’ UEFA creating a Super League ‘by stealth’

Crystal Palace Press Conference – Beckenham Training Ground
(Image credit: Steven Paston)

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish says UEFA is “the greatest enemy of domestic leagues that exists” and is busy creating a Super League “by stealth”.

Parish has criticised the way European football’s governing body distributes money to teams involved in its competitions – and those outside them – and says it is impossible to tell the difference between UEFA’s plans for a revamped Champions League and the Super League which created such outrage last year.

The new-look Champions League, set to begin in 2024-25, is controversially set to reserve two places for clubs based on historic coefficient rather than league position in the previous campaign.

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has been highly critical of UEFA (Mike Egerton/PA)

The expanded competition – poised to feature 10 group stage matches per club instead of the current six – also places pressure on the very existence of domestic cups which provide revenue for clubs not involved in Europe. Parish suggested UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin was “picking the pockets” of these clubs.

“To hear Mr Ceferin paint UEFA as the saviour of football and the supporter of fans was quite incredible,” Parish said at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit.

“If you asked pretty much every football club in Europe outside of the gilded 20 that are in the European Club Association, most people would tell you that UEFA is the greatest enemy to domestic leagues that exists.”

Asked if he subscribed to that view, Parish said: “Totally. You’ve got a completely opaque ExCo (executive committee).

“You’ve got the ECA, which is 20 clubs who decide everything. The new Champions League proposals look so much like the Super League, you can’t tell the difference. In fact in some regards they’re worse.

“There’s probably one thing that (Super League backers) Mr (Andrea) Agnelli, Mr (Joan) Laporta and I can agree on – that clubs should run tournaments and the governing body of the game should govern the game.

“Whilst we’ve got this interlocking with FIFA, UEFA – the people that are basically in charge – fighting domestic leagues over the calendar and there’s nobody over the top of it to govern that, to regulate it, then we’re in trouble, and we seem to be sleepwalking into it while Mr Ceferin picks all our pockets frankly.

“He uses the Super League as this nasty, terrible thing that he managed to stop when he was part of backing, and making something happen, with coefficients – with 40 per cent of the money (awarded to clubs) being decided on the last five years of history, he was already pulling the drawbridge up.

Aleksander Ceferin

Aleksander Ceferin is the president of UEFA (Nick Potts/PA)

“He’s trying to get two more places to people that he thinks will provide the most media revenue in any given year. All of these competitions have an element of being gerrymandered in a way that only certain clubs ever take apart.

“At least with the Super League, they didn’t try and hide it. With UEFA, and the Champions League, what’s happening is happening by stealth.

“I think we urgently need change. And both organisations (FIFA and UEFA) need some oversight and scrutiny on this because they don’t have it. And it’s a big problem.”

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