Barca vice president backs Champions League expansion

Mon Feb 3, 2014 1:07pm EST
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By Tim Hanlon

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona vice president Javier Faus has called for the expansion of the Champions League as well as the reduction of national top flights by up to four clubs.

UEFA has considered increasing the size of the Champions League proper to 64 clubs from 32 clubs following demands from Europe's top sides, who see clear financial rewards of facing each other on a more regular basis.

While Atletico Madrid are bucking the trend as they lead La Liga, the growing distance between the rich and the poor in football has been particularly stark in Spain and there has been a lack of competition for Barca and Real Madrid.

"We want to see the Champions League expanded and at the same time national leagues should be reduced from 20 clubs down to 18 or even maybe 16," Faus told Reuters.

However, he believes having just one European league for the big clubs is a step too far.

"We are not in favor of national leagues being eliminated as they are at the center of fans' hearts and I can't imagine that ever happening," he added.

Part of the reason for the disparity in Spanish football, where many clubs are heavily in debt and have been forced to sell their top players, is the share of television rights.

Unlike the English Premier League and other top divisions where there is collective bargaining, Spanish clubs are allowed to negotiate their own deals with Barcelona and Real Madrid taking home 50 percent of the money.   Continued...

The UEFA Champions League logo is seen during the draw ceremony for the 2013/2014 Champions League Cup soccer competition at Monaco's Grimaldi Forum in Monte-Carlo August 29, 2013. REUTERS/Jean Pierre Amet