By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Any clubs that get involved in organising a breakaway European Super League should be kicked out of the game, the head of the European Leagues body Lars Christer Olsson said on Wednesday.
The European Leagues held an online meeting with clubs and leagues from across the continent on Wednesday to discuss UEFA's plans for a reformed and expanded Champions League.
The organisation wants to see changes made to UEFA's plans to ensure more national champions get access to the competition, that finances are more equally distributed and that the increase in the number of games is limited.
Olsson said he hopes that an agreement on a new format for the Champions League would end talk of a breakaway Super League but said there should be a hardline taken with any clubs involved in such moves.
"I think if there is anybody or (any) clubs trying to organise a Super League they should be thrown out of association football, that for me is a different solution to that matter," he told reporters after the meeting.
While no formal proposal for a breakaway has been presented publicly, former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said in October that he had signed the club up to a Super League.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has been linked with the plan in multiple media reports and the club have consistently refused to comment on the matter.
Olsson also urged Europe's smaller clubs and national federations to lobby UEFA in a bid to change their plans before any definitive vote and demand that the distribution of revenue is resolved at the same time as agreement on the plan.
UEFA, backed by the elite clubs in the European Club Association (ECA) have proposed expanding the Champions League from 2024 to 36 from 32 teams, with an overhaul of the group stage into a single table rather than the current groups of four clubs.
Teams will play 10 matches in the group stage, an increase of four matches per club, leading to 100 extra games.
While the switch in format of the group stage has been broadly welcomed, the increase in games has caused concern that domestic competitions may suffer as a result.
“We seem to be expected to accept these proposals as they are not as bad as they could have been. I can’t quite buy into that thinking that we should be ever so grateful that it’s only an extra 100 games. This will have a quite devastating effect on domestic competition in England," said Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish.
"The creep is never-ending, the way this is managed and the huge conflict of interest. With the assault on the calendar we are talking about a transfer of value from the domestic leagues to European competition. I think it is very concerning."
The European League wants to ensure that three of the four extra slots go to national champions from smaller leagues while UEFA and the ECA want those slots to be awarded based on UEFA's 'coefficient ranking' which would, in practice, give more slots to teams from the big leagues.
(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar)