‘The project is alive’: Barcelona president says ESL is still possible

The Barcelona president, Joan Laporta, has maintained that the 欧洲超级联赛 project is still alive, despite the withdrawal earlier this year of the majority of founding clubs.

The Catalan club, along with Real Madrid and Juventus, are the only three clubs remaining in the seemingly doomed breakaway competition, which was announced in April with 12 founding clubs.

The other nine have all withdrawn and signed agreements with 上法 prohibiting them from repeating their actions, but Laporta said Barça were still moving forward with the plans.

“The project is alive. The three clubs who are defending the project are winning all the court cases,” Laporta told the television channel Esport 3. “Uefa cannot stop it, and the pressure on English clubs, who were those behind the plans, hasn’t had any effect. Granted, it could have been presented in a better way.”

Surprisingly given Barcelona’s dire financial situation, Laporta said that after he was elected club president for a second time in March he spoke to Neymar about the prospect of the Paris Saint-Germain forward returning to Barça, with the player trying to instigate the move.

“We tried to sign Neymar. He contacted us, and he wanted to come – he was crazy to come back to the club,” Laporta said. “However, back then we interpreted [La Liga’s] Financial Fair Play in another way. If we hadn’t have done so, we wouldn’t have made him an offer.”

Meanwhile the Tottenham chairman, Daniel Levy, has been voted on to the executive board of the European Club Association, only five months after his club were one of 12 involved in plans to form the breakaway ESL.

Levy will be joined on the board by representatives from Internazionale and Atlético Madrid, two of the other clubs who were founder members of the league in April that quickly collapsed amid fan outrage and opposition from Uefa, national associations and governments.

Nine of the founder clubs were formally readmitted to the ECA last month after they resigned from the organisation to establish the Super League. The Juventus chairman, Andrea Agnelli, had been the ECA’s chairman, and a member of Uefa’s ruling executive committee, until the attempted breakaway in the spring. Levy’s election was confirmed on the second day of the ECA’s general assembly in Geneva.