Milan chief Gazidis on football future: Premier League is Super League

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Milan chief executive Ivan Gazidis said he fears for the future of football given the strength of the Premier League.

In April 2020, Milan were one of 12 teams which announced they were creating a breakaway European Super League – but the idea was scrapped within days following protests from fans of some of the Premier League clubs involved.

Gazidis said the reaction was different in England and Italy and that, while this idea may not be the solution, something has to be done to level the playing field in European football.

The former Arsenal director told the Guardian: “Look, the real Super League is the Premier League which has a global audience and is moving away from other European leagues. If we do nothing that will be the future of football.

“I’ve lived in that bubble and the Premier League has done a fantastic job. But the Super League proposal was viewed very differently in Italy than England.”

One of the main criticisms of the Super League was the fact it was sold as a closed competition which would have prevented some of the more romantic stories in European football over recent seasons which saw some of the so-called smaller clubs qualify for the Champions League.

Gazidis added: “Atalanta is a wonderful story. Leicester City is a fantastic story. Our tough choice at Milan was simply to be in [a Super League] or not to be in it. We had to make the responsible choice for the club. Milan was not driving this train.

“At Arsenal I was vehemently opposed to the Super League, and blocked it, because the Premier League is completely ascendant. Pressure is being generated in Europe because they will not be able to compete with the Premier League.

“It’s not enough to say: ‘A Super League is bad so let’s continue as we were.’ If we do, these tensions and pressures will only grow. We need to talk about it. The most important thing is to have a sustainable model for European football.

“Financial fair play is a step in that direction but it’s not completely effective. We need collectively to think responsibly about football’s future.

“A future dominated by the Premier League globally is fine if you live in England. But the rest of Europe needs a more positive vision.”

Gazidis also praised the work Milan have done in going from near bankruptcy in 2018 to Scudetto winners in 2022 – and said other clubs should use their journey as blueprint to success. He said: “I noticed, not just in Italy, but football in general, the great narrative of exceptionalism.

“The idea that this new thing won’t work here. It happened in England when Arsene [Wenger] was buying French players and people said: ‘They won’t cope on a rainy night in Stoke.’

“That exists in Italy. People said: ‘You can’t construct a young team like this in Italy.’ The expression they use is la maglia è pesante – the shirt is heavy.

“It means this is Milan and you’re playing in San Siro with so many expectations on your back. How can a young person do that? We’ve done almost everything in a way people told us was impossible in Italy.”

5 Comments on “Milan chief Gazidis on football future: Premier League is Super League”

  1. Great interview. Thank you Gadzis you were very important especially for the financial aspect and fresh point of view you brought to the team and serie a.

  2. Six teams from EPL and only three from Spain and Italy??? No way.
    Four from each of the four best leagues. Three from france. That’s 19. The last five should be up for grabs for the rest o the countries. Make it two groups with 12 teams. The top eight from both groups will play cup finals with 16 remaining teams.

  3. This is because Serie A is a poor product. Their games are transmitted in 720p or less and the crowd noise is awful. It’s all in the broadcast. Look at the difference between EPL & Serie A TV rights: . 5 billion for EPL,l compared to 900 million Serie A. Lastly, EPL teams own their stadiums, making them even more profitable. I’m a Juve fan but I used to love watching Milan Roma in the late 90s, early 2000s.

  4. For the casual fan, the EPL is a better product because it has everything: packed and modern stadiums, good marketing, lots of stars, the most strong teams in any League in Europe, better broadcasting, better atmosphere. Italy is for die-hard fans, and Spain for glory hunters. Germany is non-existant

  5. It would never happen because of politics, but my ideal would be regional European Super Leagues.

    Italy/Spain/France/Portugal

    Germany/Belgium/Holland/Austria

    Scandinavia

    South East Europe

    North East Europe

    UK and Ireland. EPL can do as it pleases – join or stay independent (we seem to like that here).

    Lower divisions can remain domestic and act as a pyramid (something like, the lowest placed team from each country in each ‘super league’ is replaced by the national champions).

    Fewer, better ‘products’ to sell. More big games, more money.

    As I said, would never happen but if sorting out European football was my job, I was an autocracy, and the politics were navigable, that’s what I’d do.

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