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China plans breakaway Champions League


China's richest man is feeding on dissatisfaction among top clubs that a club like Manchester United can be denied the riches and prestige of the Champions League while Leicester City are given a place.  It does, of course, have something to do with performance on the pitch rather than financial rankings.

Dalian Wanda, the property and entertainment conglomerate run by billionaire Wang Jianlin, is reported to be in talks with the game's power brokers across Europe to create a breakaway tournament.  It is promising more places for top clubs and a steep increase in broadcasting revenues.   The proposals are part of China's plan to conquer the world's most popular sport.

The aim is to get on board the top five leagues from England, Spain, France, Germany and Italy that contribute the majority of the broadcasting revenues from the Champions League.  Talks have already begun with La Liga and Serie A.   It is being suggested that Real Madrid is particularly interested in the proposal.

Leagues in Spain, France and Italy may be most interested in the proposal, as their clubs are more reliant on revenue from pan-European competitions than their English and German rivals.

A club tournament not approved by Fifa and Uefa could lead to the footballers involved being barred from international competitions.   Uefa has been considering given recognised top clubs a greater presence in the Champions League through such devices as 'wild card' entries.

I am sceptical about whether this proposal will go ahead.   Not enough leagues or clubs will support it and it is questionable whether Wanda have the organisational resources to stage the competition. However, it may increase the pressure on Uefa to give more chances to participate to top clubs.