“In terms of form, this competition would establish itself directly in the middle of all the traditional football organisations, and this would marginalize the main player in football: the supporter. » Angel Haro, president of Betis
What is your point of view on the Superleague project?
Angel Haro (Betis): We do not agree with this Superleague on the substance as on the form: on the substance, it is a competition where meritocracy largely disappears. In terms of form, this competition would be established directly in the middle of all the traditional football organisations, and this would marginalize the main player in football: the supporter. La Liga is a competition where our fans aim every year for the dream of being able to qualify for a European competition, which is what makes our championship so charismatic. A competition like the Superleague takes that away.
José María del Nido Carrasco (Seville): The Superleague already exists: it is the Spanish Liga. We believe in this domestic competition as the best in the world, and we also believe in the European competitions organized by UEFA. We are against any type of project that would not be specific to sporting success and qualification for a European competition through the national bias. We continue to believe that La Liga, the Champions League, the Europa League and the Europa League Conference are the fundamental competitions for the good balance of our football.
Francisco Catalan (Levante): This model is known to all, it is a success on a global scale and it generates maximum competitive enthusiasm among all La Liga participants. This competition would destroy the mechanisms of solidarity, and logically, our investments would be very disrupted with the possibility of strong economic instability. We refuse this project.
Jose Castro Carmona (Seville): Football is for everyone, because we all love it. All teams on the planet must have the opportunity to improve in order to one day fight against the best. We cannot destroy the rivalry and passion of the fans for the welfare of the few. Seville is proud to be able to extend the name of its city throughout Europe and constantly since the beginning of the 21st century. We want to maintain this momentum. Our slogan “nunca is rinde” (We never give up, in VF) does not correspond to a closed competition in which we could be invited. Today, Sevilla FC has earned its prestige thanks to its good sporting and economic management. It must continue like this.
“We cannot destroy the rivalry and the passion of the fans for the well-being of the few. » José Castro Carmona, President of Sevilla FC
Fernando Roig (Villarreal): It’s now 24 years since I took over the club, I’m not the oldest of all La Liga presidents, but I’m the one with the longest period of presidency. When I started this project, my ambition was to go as high as possible and dream of what we can achieve. Villarreal have qualified for the Champions League three times, and that will forever be etched in the minds of our fans. Cut these ambitions and limit this hope of a whole people, this is not the right way. You have to fight on the sporting level. It is possible that one year will be worse than the other, but whatever the case, the spirit of competition must always prevail. Whether it’s Sevilla, Levante, Villarreal or any other club, we all want to aim as high as possible, and no one can stop us from doing so.
When Florentino Pérez says that in Spain the three clubs that generate the most money are those with the biggest debts while the other La Liga clubs make a profit, what does that inspire you?
Cardona (Seville): This health crisis is exceptional, it affects football, but also all other sectors of our society. If we have to learn anything from this crisis, it is that we will only get out of it through solidarity and cooperation. This Superleague is neither a solidarity project nor a cooperative project. Getting out of it requires budget control, which requires effort and work. The easiest way is not to increase the incomes of the richest, but to keep a grip on our financial operations. The current inflation is due to a disproportionate increase in major European clubs.
“On the salary scale, I can understand that Real or Barça offer two or three times more than we do, but not twelve or fifteen times more. The solution is not in bringing in revenue, but in reducing costs. » Fernando Roig, president of Villarreal
Roig (Villarreal): The crisis does not only affect professional clubs, but all businesses. We have to adapt to this: reduce our costs and be aware that all teams face the same problems. If revenues have decreased this year, we will look for alternative solutions. I remind you that the La Liga clubs have not asked for any state or European aid, we are managing on our own. Villarreal are a healthy club that don’t need outside help to cope. You just have to get moving and find the solutions internally. What should be reduced? Where is this still possible? On the salary scale, I can understand that Real or Barça offer two or three times more than we do, but not twelve or fifteen times more. The solution is not in bringing in revenue, but in reducing costs.
Pérez explained that the crisis experienced by football could find a solution through a pyramid system where the Superleague would be at the top. What do you think ?
Catalan (Levante): This pyramid logic is very confusing. For Real Madrid to be La Liga champion, they have to win against Levante, Villarreal, Sevilla FC… But sometimes they can also lose against Levante or draw. We are here to make it possible, that’s what makes football so charming. Being under the management of twelve big clubs and waiting for them to invite us to participate in their competition does not make sense. I’m one of those who think the Superleague can work in the short term, but it won’t have a long term future. Football is about living and enjoying the weekend to face a different opponent each week. With this Superleague, we are losing all this upstream work. I think that certain models of competitions can be reconfigured in order to seek to improve them, it is even our duty. But to invent something outside the system of our football is to get lost in your ideas. The Superleague is not necessary. Without it, we managed to grow and find a balance between our expenses and our costs. This is what allows football to be viable in the long term. As presidents, we must continually ask ourselves whether our clubs are well run.
“Being under the management of twelve big clubs and waiting for them to invite us to participate in their competition, it does not make sense. » Francisco Catalan, president of Levante
Haro (Betis): We are talking about a hyperbole with total symmetry and then a horizontal delimitation between the twelve participants and the rest of the clubs. That said, I understand the pyramid argument in the sense that there is already a big difference given that they have a budget at least ten times greater than ours. But in the case of poor sporting performance, how could a founding Superleague club end up going downhill? It’s impossible. In this, sporting merit no longer exists.
How do you respond to President Pérez, who spoke of his boredom in front of secondary La Liga, Premier League or Serie A posters?
Roig (Villarreal): We have teams in major Spanish cities such as Seville, Valencia or Bilbao. And I sincerely believe that our confrontations in La Liga are quite appreciable, contrary to what President Pérez may have said. When you attend a Villarreal-Sevilla, a Sevilla-Betis or a Sevilla-Levante, you can have fun. It is a real offense to the supporter to say such things. At Villarreal we are proud to be part of La Liga and to see how far the club can go.
Interview by Antoine Donnarieix