Arsene Wenger has predicted that a European Super League will imminently replace the Premier League at weekends, with major domestic competition moving to weeknights.
On what was the last of his pre-match press conferences after 22 years as Arsenal manager, Wenger said that the biggest ever overhaul in the structure of European club competition had become inevitable amid opposition among the ‘big six’ clubs to the equitable share of Premier League broadcast income.
Proposals to end the equal distribution of overseas television money were abandoned earlier this season following opposition through the rest of the Premier League to a proposal for 35 per cent of revenue to be divided according to league position.
Changes in Premier League rules require agreement from a majority of 14 clubs. Wenger himself played a huge role in the globalisation of the English game since 1996 and he is expecting further seismic change over the next two decades.
“If you look at the club ownership when I arrived, and what it is today, it has become completely worldwide,” said Wenger. “These owners buy players from all over the world. The Premier League has become a world-wide championship. The next evolution? You will certainly have a European league over the weekends. A domestic league will certainly play Tuesday and Wednesday. I think that is the next step we will see.”
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Secret meetings have been held already in recent years between leading executives, although it is the clubs in Spain and Italy who are most pushing for change amid the vast commercial success of the Premier League.
The current £3 billion Premier League overseas television deal from 2016 until 2019 generates £39 million annually for each club and, for the previous 25 years, there has been an equal sharing of international broadcasting income.
“The money is never a problem, it’s the way you use it that is the problem,” said Wenger. “It has reduced the uncertainty of the game. In Europe overall you have big, big financial powers and in December you can say who will win the league. That is not good.”
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Of the likelihood of a European league, Wenger said: “It will happen and it will be soon because it is a way for other clubs to fight against the Premier League. Why weekends? To sell it well. The Champions League doesn’t sell well anymore. Look at the audiences but, if you have Real v Barca, or Real v Arsenal, or Manchester United v Bayern Munich every week the audiences will be good.
“It is inevitable. To share money between the big clubs and small clubs (in the Premier League) will become a problem. The big clubs will say, 'if two smaller clubs are playing each other nobody wants to watch it. So we have to share the money but nobody is interested in you?’ People want to watch quality. If you want to make it more attractive you have to go down to 16 and make a real competition of it.”