European Super League: Al-Khelaifi vows PSG will remain under UEFA

By Sports Desk April 20, 2021

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has struck a huge blow to the founding clubs in the European Super League by vowing his team will remain playing in UEFA competitions.

The French champions and Bayern Munich were two of the biggest teams not to commit to the breakaway continental tournament.

Six teams from the Premier League along with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter and Milan were revealed on Sunday to be the 12 founding clubs of the new lucrative competition to which they would have guaranteed access every season.

The proposals have attracted widespread condemnation, with even Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola – whose sides are involved – making clear they disagreed with the concept.

UEFA has unveiled its own new format for the Champions League, expanding the group stage and increasing the number of teams from 32 to 36 from 2024.

It is this structure which Al-Khelaifi believes in and he insists PSG will continue to operate under, dashing hopes that the Ligue 1 heavyweights may ultimately join the ESL.

Al-Khelaifi issued a statement on Tuesday after he was re-elected to the UEFA Executive Committee as a European Club Association (ECA) representative.

"Paris Saint-Germain holds the fine belief that football is a game for everyone," he said.

"I have been consistent on this since the very beginning.

"As a football club, we are a family and a community, whose fabric is our fans - I believe we shouldn't forget this.

"There is a clear need to advance the existing UEFA competition model, presented by UEFA yesterday and concluding 24 months' of extensive and collaborative consultation across the whole European football landscape.

"We believe that any proposal without the support of UEFA - an organisation that has been working to progress the interests of European football for nearly 70 years - does not resolve the issues currently facing the football community, but is instead driven by self-interest.

"Paris Saint-Germain will continue to work with UEFA, the European Club Association and all stakeholders of the football family based on the principles of good faith, dignity and respect for all."

Of his re-election, the PSG chief added: "I am honoured by the trust placed in me by my colleagues of the ECA to represent them on the UEFA Executive Committee.

"European football is at a pivotal moment, in which all stakeholders should work together; in good faith, with dignity, and to protect the game we all love."

Earlier, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin thanked the club officials who have stood by Champions League reform proposals.

He was speaking at the UEFA Congress the day after criticising those involved in the breakaway European Super League in emotional comments.

Ceferin picked out Al-Khelaifi, who was present at the event in Switzerland, for praise, calling him "a great man" and adding that he had shown he "respects football and its values".

After a 3-2 win over Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1 on Sunday, PSG are at home to Angers in the Coupe de France quarter-final on Wednesday.

Head coach Mauricio Pochettino said: "It is hard to express an opinion [on the Super League], we must take precautions because we do not know everything under the surface.

"We will see what happens in the next few days to give an opinion.

"We are currently still in three competitions [Ligue 1, the Coupe de France and Champions League], so we must focus on it and focus above all on the game.

"The Coupe de France is a special competition for the Parisians, for the players and the club. We're really attached to this competition.

"We hope Kylian [Mbappe] will be able to continue in the same way through to the end of the season. He's in great form, all the better for the team. 

"The atmosphere has always been good since I arrived, but the win over Saint-Etienne gave the squad an extra boost of energy."

Related items

  • Now for the big ones as Ancelotti vows Supercopa is just the start for 'ugly' Real Madrid Now for the big ones as Ancelotti vows Supercopa is just the start for 'ugly' Real Madrid

    Carlo Ancelotti scooped the first trophy of his second reign at Real Madrid and vowed his "ugly" team would go flat out to bring more silverware to the Santiago Bernabeu.

    It had been 18 months since Madrid last won a title, the 2019-20 LaLiga crown in the pandemic-hit season that went into extra time, but a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the Supercopa de Espana final scratched that itch.

    Last term under Zinedine Zidane proved a struggle at times, but there is more zip and panache to the Madrid that Ancelotti has fielded this season. He won four trophies in his first two-year spell at Madrid from 2013 to 2015, and obviously fancies several more this time around.

    Madrid are front-runners in LaLiga, albeit with Sevilla in pursuit, they remain in the Copa del Rey and also have Champions League ambitions ahead of a tough last-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain.

    This trip to Saudi Arabia for the Supercopa should provide a timely lift for Madrid, heading into the business end of the season. Seeing off Barcelona in a testing semi-final was a boon, and Madrid controlled the final against Athletic until flagging in the closing stages.

    "I am very pleased, happy, and we continue," Ancelotti said. "We are going to compete, but being here is lucky. It is an honour to train this team and this club. By the way, we are going to compete for the other competitions.

    "We have the strength to fight for all competitions. This is a team I like to watch play. We don't have just one way of playing, but rather different ones and that is the strength of this team."

    Ancelotti pointed out his personal trophy drought had also ended, after going without such success during spells with Napoli and Everton. It had been four and a half years since he last won any cup, which came at the tail end of his Bayern Munich tenure.

    "I'm not tired of winning, because the last one was a [German] Super Cup with Bayern and I hadn't won for a long time," he said.

    "Winning is the end of the job. Winning means you've done a good job. Sometimes it isn't. I've done a good job at Napoli or Everton and I haven't won anything."

    Ancelotti spared a playful jibe for his team, who appear to have taken kindly to their Italian coach.

    "When you win a lot, you think you're the most handsome, that you play the best football in the world and the sacrifice goes down a bit," Ancelotti said.

    "Fortunately, the sacrifice of our players is high. I think my players are not handsome … they are very ugly."

  • Sacked Benitez did not realise 'magnitude of task' at Everton Sacked Benitez did not realise 'magnitude of task' at Everton

    Rafael Benitez said he did not realise the "magnitude of the task" at Everton after he was dismissed on Sunday following a run of just two wins in 14 games across all competitions.

    The Toffees announced Benitez's departure a day on from losing 2-1 to bottom side Norwich City.

    Former Liverpool boss Benitez was a divisive appointment at Everton when he was drafted in to replace Carlo Ancelotti in July.

    They started the season well, winning three of their first four league matches, yet injuries to key players and a dreadful loss of form has seen them slide down the table.

    A win over Hull City in the FA Cup third round offered Benitez a brief reprieve, but defeat to lowly Norwich on Saturday marked a new nadir, and Everton decided to act.

    Benitez cited injuries as a significant factor in their dismal form, and believed they would improve in the second half of the campaign. 

    "We knew it wouldn't be easy, and that it was a big challenge, both emotionally and in terms of sport," he said in a statement posted on his official website.

    "My love for this city, for Merseyside and its people, made me accept this challenge, but it is only when you are inside that you realise the magnitude of the task.

    "From the very first day, my staff and myself worked as we always do, with commitment and full dedication, we didn't only have to get results, but we also had to win over people's hearts.

    "However, the financial situation and then the injuries that followed made things even harder. I am convinced that we would have been better once the injured players were back and with the arrival of the new signings.

    "The road to success isn't easy and sadly, nowadays in football there is a search for immediate results and there is always less and less patience; unfortunately circumstances have determined the results and it won't be possible to continue this project."

    Benitez left the club after a mere 200 days, giving him the third-shortest reign of any Toffees manager in the Premier League with 40 or more days in charge. Only Sam Allardyce (167) and Dave Watson (60) were at the helm for fewer days.

    It was his fourth time in charge of a Premier League club and he departed with comfortably the worst win percentage ratio during his time in England.

    He won just seven of his 22 games in charge, leaving him with a win ratio of 31.8 per cent – significantly behind his records at Liverpool (55.4 per cent), Chelsea (58.3) and Newcastle United (42.5).

  • Benitez sacked by Everton: The data behind a dismal managerial tenure Benitez sacked by Everton: The data behind a dismal managerial tenure

    Rafael Benitez's dismal tenure as Everton manager was brought to an end on Sunday after a run of just two wins in 14 games across all competitions.

    Former Liverpool boss Benitez was a divisive appointment at Everton when he was drafted in to replace Carlo Ancelotti in July after the Italian left for Real Madrid.

    Everton started the season well, winning three of their first four league matches, yet injuries to key players and a dreadful loss of form has seen them slide down the table.

    A win over Hull City in the FA Cup third round offered Benitez a reprieve, but defeat to lowly Norwich City on Saturday marked a new nadir, and Everton have decided to make a change.

    Here, Stats Perform looks at the data behind Benitez's miserable spell at Goodison Park.

    A torrid tenure cut short

    Despite not being a popular appointment, Benitez's success at the likes of Valencia and Liverpool at least gave sceptical fans hope that he might be able to reverse the recent fortunes of the club.

    To say it did not turn out that way would be something of an understatement.

    He left the club after a mere 200 days, giving him the third-shortest reign of any Toffees manager in the Premier League with 40 or more days in charge. Only Sam Allardyce (167) and Dave Watson (60) were at the helm for fewer days.

    Top of the pile by a comfortable distance is David Moyes, who oversaw the team for a whopping 4101 days between 2002 and 2013.

    Wins hard to come by

    Everton was Benitez's fourth time at the helm of a Premier League club and he departed with comfortably the worst win percentage ratio during his time in England.

    He won just seven of his 22 games in charge, leaving him with a win ratio of 31.8 per cent – significantly behind his records at Liverpool (55.4 per cent), Chelsea (58.3) and Newcastle United (42.5).

    Surprisingly, it is only the fourth-lowest win ratio in his managerial career, with his spells at Real Valladolid (17.2), Osasuna (27.3) and Dalian (31.6) all bringing about worse records in that department. 

    The best win ratio in his career? That came during a 25-game stint as Real Madrid boss when he won 68 per cent of his games in charge.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.