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Bernd Reichart: “The solution is better matches, not more matches”

Bernd Reichart: "The solution is better matches, not more matches"

Bernd Reichart (born in Scheidegg, Bavaria, 48 years ago) is the CEO of A22, the promoter of the Super League. His job is to “explain and expand the project and dialogue to improve football.” Reichart speaks several languages, and Spanish is especially good because he has lived in our country for ten years as director of Atresmedia.

Dialogue with UEFA has been impossible for the Super League for the last 18 months. This week, however, they accepted a meeting for next week. What reading do you make of it?

-I believe that we must put the problems of football on the table. Therefore, we will travel to Nyon with the purpose of discussing our disagreements, but with the desire to confront ideas to move forward. I think this is also good news for the clubs that have been afraid to start this dialogue that, without pressure or threats, seems very positive to me.

Can the possibility of an agreement between UEFA and the Super League be considered before there is a judgment of the Luxembourg Court of Justice (CJEU)?

-We trust the courts of the European Union and we are going to abide by their sentence. The question of whether UEFA has a monopoly is on the table and, given its importance, needs to be clarified.

Fans have the idea that the Super League is a project only for the biggest clubs in Europe. That there will be permanent members. Is it a hoax or is it reality?

-The Super League will not be an exclusive or closed competition. There will be no permanent members. Beyond Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus there are many other clubs that have concerns and ideas to improve football in Europe.

The other great controversy of the Super League is due to sporting merits. It was questioned whether they were relevant to the project. Is it so?

-Absolutely not. The sporting merits will be the center of the Super League.

Do you already have a format in mind for the Super League?

-No, because if we talk about having an open dialogue, you cannot go with something already defined. We are at the moment of listening, dialoguing, working and proposing. In this order.

The calendar is already at its limit, to what extent are you concerned?

We have to find the balance because we cannot put the health of the players at stake. It seems to me that the important thing is not to talk about more games, but about better games. Honestly, in the new Champions League format from 2024 I don’t see that this has been taken into account; rather it worsens the current situation. I see more inconsequential games. The system must be reviewed and redefined because it needs important reforms.

Javier Tebas has said that if PSG was not in the Super League it is because the Super League had rigorous financial control. Do you share, even for once, the opinion of the president of LaLiga?

-In the Superliga a blunt financial control will be applied, don’t hesitate. It is one of the axes of our project. Football must control its expenses and live on the income it generates. Financial fair play is vital, haggling over it or escaping its control is distorting the competition. For the rest, any support regarding this topic is welcome.

Of the four players with the most projection (according to the ‘Golden Boy’, Gavi, Camavinga, Bellingham and Musiala), none play in England but it is very likely that one will end up doing so soon. Is the Super League an anti-sheikh or anti-oligarch competition?

-The Super League is not against anything or anyone. Our project is inclusive and its objective is to improve club football in Europe. But it is true that this summer we have all seen that the transfer spending of the Premier has far exceeded the investments of the other four major continental leagues together. This is something we should be concerned about. Above all because football must live from what it generates and not from external economic injections.

You have recently commented that the clubs bear all the expenses, from the players’ chips to the construction of the stadiums, but that they have no say in anything. Is this an abuse of UEFA?

-There is no sector, anywhere, in which whoever assumes all the financial risks is not the master of his own destiny. I believe that the clubs have every right to design their future and govern their own competitions. If they do it at a national level, with the leagues, I don’t understand why in Europe this can only be done by UEFA from Switzerland.

What is your opinion that only one Spanish team, the defending champion, Real Madrid, has made it out of the Champions League group stage?

-We should not focus on a specific moment of a competition. The structural problem we need to solve is the constant loss of interest from fans. I know that paying football subscribers in Spain have dropped from four to two and a half million in recent years. This must be a very serious concern.

With few exceptions, the boys no longer watch an entire game. They prefer the best moments, the goals…, when they play FIFA they choose the big teams, the best players. Is it so?

-We can settle for young people watching twenty seconds of a game on TikTok or we can react and work to improve things. This starts by offering, week after week, the best matches. Giving the best football must be the locomotive of the project.

Is this compatible with the continuity of the national leagues?

-I am convinced of it. We are talking about European competitions on weekdays, not the league on weekends. The Super League does not invade the weekend calendar.

We are a month and a half away from the decision of the general counsel of the CJEU on the Super League. What will they do if the Luxembourg Court considers that UEFA is a monopoly and gives the green light to the Super League?

-We have a profound respect for European Justice. Therefore, we do not anticipate judicial decisions and we do not want to speculate on them. In any case, we will continue to work with all the clubs and the football family to provide the necessary solutions.

What if they lose in the Luxembourg Court?

-Of course, we will comply with what the Court orders, in any sense, and I hope that we all do. It is inconceivable that the president of LaLiga publicly states that he does not care what the European Justice thinks because politicians will be able to legislate against the opinion of the CJEU to protect UEFA. That is not how the European Union works and that is not the respect that our courts of Justice deserve.

How about a World Cup in the middle of the season?

-My frustration was not seeing the World Cup last summer, which is when I would have liked to enjoy it. We return again to the management of the calendar, which is something of concern for the clubs, which are the ones who pay the players and who have no say in these decisions.

For you, is UEFA a monopoly?

-And what do you think? They concentrate all the power of European football and prevent the access of any competitor. In our opinion this is not legal. But it is a matter that has to be resolved by the Luxembourg Court.

What sense would it make for the CJEU to knock down the Super League when the Euroleague basketball exists? How would something like this be understood?

-It’s not just the Euroleague, there are many other examples. What do you think of Six Nations rugby, a tournament reserved for life to six European teams to the exclusion of all others? The only question to be debated is whether UEFA is a monopoly and we have to wait for the CJEU ruling.

You recently said that it would not be unreasonable to think that, if they win at the CJUE, the Super League could be a reality in the 24-25 season, do you maintain those deadlines?

-They gave me the choice between seeing a Super League in ten years or in three, and honestly I prefer it to be soon. But we will take the time to talk to all the parties involved in football. We won’t rush things, but there’s no reason to rule anything out, even starting in 2024.

Why have you joined the Super League project? What have you seen in this plan?

As a football lover, and after spending my entire career in the audiovisual field, it seems to me a privilege to be able to contribute to the development of football in Europe. I am passionate about the European idea of ​​the project, because it has the vocation to unite, to connect people through football. And, also, I accepted the position due to the determination and responsibility that the clubs promoting this project, and their respective presidents, put into improving football in Europe.

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