Napoli president plots new, lucrative tournament replace Champions League 1 week ago

Napoli president plots new, lucrative tournament replace Champions League

It would be based on merit, unlike the proposed Super League

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has revealed that he is working on a proposal that he believes will be worth €10billion (£8.5bn)' to the European game.

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Prior to Napoli's Europa League opener against Leicester City on Thursday night, the film producer - who has owned Napoli for nearly 20 years - stated that, despite disagreeing with the plan to create a European Super League, clubs are spending too much money in hope of winning, or even just staying competitive in, the Champions League or Europa league.

He also suggested that the prize money received for winning one of the competitions is not sufficient.

Considering this, the 72-year-old wants to help introduce a new, more lucrative, European League - one that is based on the performance of clubs, rather than, as would've be the case with the Super League, teams being invited simply based on their 'status'.

"The system doesn't work any more. The Champions and Europa League don't generate sufficient income for the clubs to justify participating in it," said De Laurentiis, speaking to Sportsmail.

"To be competitive, you need more top-class players. That means you have to spend more money — and the prize money from the European competitions doesn't account for that.

"That is why the clubs need to speak to each other to come up with a more modern and lucrative tournament for everyone in it.

"We need to reduce the number of games by reducing the size of the top divisions across Europe. Also, we create a European league with a democratic system of entry, based on what teams achieve in their domestic competitions.

"I have examined a project ready to bring €10bn to the European game, but we need willingness and total independence."

Away from focusing on his latest 'project', De Laurentiis is also a big fan of English football, stating that 'we Italians must learn from it'.

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However, he and other owners are now worried that young people are becoming less interested with football.

"If we don't change the rules of the game and make it a better spectacle, young people will abandon us and football will no longer be the central part of our lives," stated a worried De Laurentiis.

"My research tells me that people between the ages of eight and 25 have stopped watching football and prefer playing with smartphones — they have totally transformed our children.

"I'm not saying that the habit of watching live football in a stadium will die, but now we have the 'virtual stadium', which can attract billions of people to play games against each other.

"Who knows if we will manage to get them back down the route of the greatest and most influential sport in the world?"

When De Laurentiis purchased Napoli in 2004, the Italian side were playing in the third division and were in something of a financial nightmare.

Nowadays, despite not winning a league title since 86/87, they have become one of Serie A's 'big boys' in recent years and have started this campaign in blistering fashion - winning their first three league games, including an impressive 2-1 victory against Juventus on Saturday.

Ahead of facing Brendan Rodgers' Leicester side on Thursday, they have been boosted by the availability of Victor Osimhen and David Ospina, who are now available to play, despite the pair playing in recent trips to red-list countries.

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