Sport Napoli's Aurelio De Laurentiis proposing £8.5bn Euro league
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As Napoli begin their campaign to win the second European trophy in their history at Leicester on Thursday night, president Aurelio De Laurentiis has issued a stark warning to the continent's top clubs — change or be forgotten.
In an exclusive interview with Sportsmail, De Laurentiis — a prominent film producer who has owned Napoli for nearly two decades — revealed he is working on a proposal that he says will be worth '€10billion (£8.5bn)' to the European game.
Though he disagreed with the proposal to launch a, De Laurentiis believes the allure of winning the or is forcing clubs to spend beyond their means in the race to stay competitive — and the prize money does not plug the gaps.
Napoli could be without four players for trip to Leicester
At least four Napoli players - goalkeeper David Ospina, defenders Kalidou Koulibaly and Amir Rrahmani and forward Victor Osmihen - are likely to be unavailable due to being in red-list countries.At least four Napoli players - goalkeeper David Ospina, defenders Kalidou Koulibaly and Amir Rrahmani, and forward Victor Osimhen - are likely to be unavailable for the match at King Power Stadium on September 16 as they have spent time in countries on the UK's red list during the international break.
That is why De Laurentiis wants a more lucrative pan-European league where qualification is based on clubs' performances, rather than the formula of the Super League, where teams were invited to compete regardless of domestic performance.
'The system doesn't work any more,' argues De Laurentiis. 'The Champions and Europa League don't generate sufficient income for the clubs to justify participating in it.
'To be competitive, you need more top-class players. That means you have to spend more money — and the prize money from the European competitions doesn't account for that.
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'That is why the clubs need to speak to each other to come up with a more modern and lucrative tournament for everyone in it.
Imagine him and Vardy: Rodgers must unleash “very talented” LCFC gem against Napoli – opinion
Leicester City kick off their Europa League campaign with a tricky opening fixture against Serie A giants Napoli this evening. It’s been a slow start to the campaign for the Foxes despite their Community Shield victory in the curtain-raiser against Manchester City, with the same opponents condemning them to their second defeat in four Premier […]It’s been a slow start to the campaign for the Foxes despite their Community Shield victory in the curtain-raiser against Manchester City, with the same opponents condemning them to their second defeat in four Premier League outings last time out.
'We need to reduce the number of games by reducing the size of the top divisions across Europe. Also, we create a European league with a democratic system of entry, based on what teams achieve in their domestic competitions. I have examined a project ready to bring €10bn to the European game, but we need willingness and total independence.'
De Laurentiis bought Napoli in 2004 when they were in financial oblivion and playing in the third division. After former player Diego Maradona died last year, they renamed their stadium after him.
Napoli quickly returned to Serie A and while they have not won the title since Maradona delivered two of them, they have consistently been one of the best teams in the country.
This season, they have claimed maximum points from their first three matches, including a 2-1 win over Juventus on Saturday. They represent a stern test for Leicester and have Victor Osimhen and David Ospina cleared to play despite recent trips to red-list countries.
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De Laurentiis is a huge fan of English football — 'we Italians must learn from it' – yet he and owners fear young people are turning their backs on football.
'If we don't change the rules of the game and make it a better spectacle, young people will abandon us and football will no longer be the central part of our lives,' warned De Laurentiis, 72. 'My research tells me that people between the ages of eight and 25 have stopped watching football and prefer playing with smartphones — they have totally transformed our children.
'I'm not saying that the habit of watching live football in a stadium will die, but now we have the 'virtual stadium', which can attract billions of people to play games against each other.
'Who knows if we will manage to get them back down the route of the greatest and most influential sport in the world?'
Liverpool the LEAST likely English side to progress to CL knockouts .
The forecast, produced by data company Gracenote, labels Bayern as the surprise favourites to win the competition, while PSG are seventh on the list of favourites despite signing Lionel Messi. © Provided by Daily Mail Bayern Munich, who won the 2020 competition, are the shock favourites to win it this season MAIN CONTENDERS FOR CL TROPHY For Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, they have only a 7 per cent chance of winning the Champions League this season, according to the Euro Club Index which is what the forecast is based on.