Football: Berlusconi seeks European change

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The Independent Online
THE MILAN president, Silvio Berlusconi, has called for changes to the structure of the Champions' League as he believes the newly expanded league is distorting national championships. "We have to change something because now there is a disparity between the top teams playing for the [domestic] title," Berlusconi told the Italian daily paper Gazzetta dello Sport.

Berlusconi, a supporter of the idea of a European super league for more than a decade, says teams not competing in the current Champions' League have a clear advantage in the national championships as they play significantly fewer midweek games.

"I believe we need to change this situation because it creates privileged conditions," he said. "It favours those clubs not participating in the Champions' League and falsifies the national league."

Berlusconi maintains the way ahead is his long-held dream of a full-scale European league. "My project is more advanced and more integrated, with a first division reserved for the big clubs with large followings who can attract big television audiences, and a second division for the other clubs."

Berlusconi, who has seen Milan win three European Cups and six Italian league titles during his 13-year reign at the San Siro, believes Uefa's reforms, in which European football's governing body created a 32-team Champions' League for this season, are merely another step towards a super league.

"I think that this arrangement is only a transitional formula until we arrive at a real and proper European league playing on Wednesdays, with national championships taking place on Saturdays," he said.

The new-look Champions' League was created after European football's governing body fought off a bid from a Milan-based company to create a private European superleague. Media Partners held talks with the leading clubs, but the clubs eventually decided to support Uefa's reforms.