Uefa president to hold talks with Premier League as he accuses Europe's powerhouses of 'blackmail'

Ben Rumsby
Aleksander Ceferin has said he will not be pressured by football's financial powerhouses - AFP or licensors

Aleksander Ceferin has revealed he will hold talks with Richard Scudamore after accusing some leagues of attempting to “blackmail” Uefa over its Champions League reforms.

Ceferin refused to confirm or deny the Premier League was one of the competitions he said were seeking to “impose their will on the associations because they think they are all-powerful on account of the astronomical revenues they generate”.

But the Uefa president did say he did not like top-flight English matches being scheduled on Champions League nights, as the Premier League claimed it had been forced to do when Manchester City played Stoke City last month at the same time as Barcelona’s historic comeback against Paris St Germain.

“I’m having a meeting with Mr Scudamore very soon and I’m sure that we will come to an agreement,” Ceferin said.

“Maybe, sometimes – I hope rarely – it will not be possible to play at different times.

Richard Scudamore (left) wants what's best for the Premier League Credit: REX FEATURES

“But, in principle, we have to have an agreement about that. And I think it’s important also for the Premier League.”

The Premier League is one of the leading members of the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), which tore up a memorandum of understanding with Uefa three weeks ago that prevented domestic games being scheduled on Champions League evenings.

The EPFL did so in protest at the reforms to Uefa’s elite-club competition which will see England, Spain, Germany and Italy each have four guaranteed places from next year.

In a speech to Uefa’s annual congress in Helsinki, Ceferin said: “To some leagues, I shall say it calmly and dispassionately, but firmly and resolutely: we will never give in to the blackmail of those who think they can manipulate small leagues or impose their will on the associations because they think they are all-powerful on account of the astronomical revenues they generate.

Aleksander Ceferin says "quite simply, money does not rule" Credit: AP

“Quite simply, money does not rule and the football pyramid must be and will be respected. It’s as simple as that.”

Asked afterwards if the Premier League was one of the competitions to which he had been referring, the Slovenian replied: “I will not go more concrete now. But I think that the ones I referred to understood the message.

“The important thing is that nobody can blackmail us and that, if we want to co-operate and do something good for football, we have to sit at the same table and discuss it.”

The Premier League last month defended the scheduling of Man City-Stoke, accusing Uefa of hoarding too many dates on the calendar.

Ceferin, meanwhile, also had a warning for clubs seeking to create a European Super League.

He said: “To some clubs, I shall say it calmly and dispassionately, but firmly and resolutely: there will be no closed league. Quite simply, that is not in line with our values and ideals. It’s as simple as that.”

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