The footballing world has been left entranced by the emergence of Leicester City as genuine contenders for the Premier League title. Available as a 5000/1 shot at the start of the season, they now lead the table by three points with just 10 games to go.
Even if the Foxes do not win the title, they are almost certain to at least qualify for the Champions League. That in itself is an outstanding achievement and should see them net an extra £40million in revenue next season.
That will come at the expense of one of the Premier League's so-called elite clubs. Manchester United are still trying to fight their way in while reigning champions Chelsea can realistically only bag themselves a Europa League qualifying place.
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It is that uncertainty that saw executives from five of England's biggest clubs meet with Charlie Stillitano to discuss a potential breakaway European Super League. The agenda for that meeting, which took place at London's Dorchester hotel earlier this week, was believed to have been a renegotiation with Uefa over Champions League qualification.
Stillitano is a widely known sports executive from the USA and is credited with helping bring MLS closer to the mainstream. It now appears that he is using friends in high places to try and orchestrate a monumental shift in the way European football is played.
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Essentially, he wants Champions League qualification to come automatically to Europe's biggest clubs, scrapping the idea of a top four in exchange for a performance indicator over a long period of time.
Such a system would make it almost impossible for a club like Leicester to qualify and make the Champions League more of a closed loop. It would also help to earn the likes of Manchester United and City even more money.
Stillitano attempted to explain his theory on his radio station SiriusXM, saying the Champions League does not want clubs like Leicester playing in it.
No place for Leicester
Here's what he had to say:
“What would Manchester United argue: did we create soccer or did Leicester create [it]? Let’s call it the money pot created by soccer and the fandom around the world.
"Who has had more of an integral role, Manchester United or Leicester? It’s a wonderful, wonderful story – but you could see it from Manchester United’s point of view, too.
“Maybe that is absolutely spectacular unless you are a Manchester United fan, Liverpool fan … or a Chelsea fan. I guess they don’t have a birthright to be in it every year but it’s the age-old argument: US sports franchises versus what they have in Europe.
"There are wonderful, wonderful, wonderful elements to relegation and promotion and there are good arguments for a closed system.
“This is going to sound arrogant and it’s the furthest thing from it … but suddenly when you see the teams we have this summer in the ICC you are going to shake your head and say, ‘Isn’t that the Champions League?’ No, the Champions League is PSV and Gent.”
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