- Leicester City will take on Napoli in their first Europa League group game this week
- Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis tells SportsMail about his plans for football
- Italian claims UEFA competitions don’t give teams enough money
- De Laurentiis wants Europe’s elite domestic leagues down in size
As Napoli begin their campaign to win the second European trophy in their history at Leicester on Thursday night, President Aurelio De Laurentiis issued a dire warning to the continent’s top clubs – change or forget.
in an exclusive interview with sportsmailDe Laurentiis – a prominent filmmaker who has owned Napoli for nearly two decades – revealed he is working on a proposal he says would cost ‘€10 billion (£10 billion) for the European game. 8.5bn)’ would have a value.
Although he disagreed with the proposal to start a European Super League, De Laurentiis believes that the allure of winning the Champions League or Europa League forces clubs to spend more than their means in the race to stay competitive. doing — and the prize money doesn’t plug the gap.
Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis has told SportsMail about his plan to change football forever
Italian claims UEFA’s competitions do not give Europe teams enough money to compete
This is why De Laurentiis wants a more lucrative pan-European league where qualification is based on the performance of clubs, and not on the formula of a Super League, where teams were invited to compete regardless of home performance.
‘The system doesn’t work anymore,’ argues De Laurentiis. ‘The Champions and Europa Leagues do not generate enough income for clubs to justify participating in it.
‘To be competitive, you need more top-class players. That means you’ll have to spend more money – and the prize money of European competitions doesn’t count.
‘That’s why clubs need to talk to each other to come up with more modern and engaging tournaments for everyone in it.
De Laurentiis claims all top divisions across Europe need to be reduced in size
‘We need to reduce the number of games by reducing the size of the top divisions across Europe. At the same time, we create a European league with a democratic system of entry, based on what the teams achieve in their domestic competitions. I have examined a project set to bring €10bn to European sport, but we need will and complete freedom.’
De Laurentiis bought Napoli in 2004 when they were in financial oblivion and playing in the Third Division. After the death of former player Diego Maradona last year, they renamed their stadium after him.
Napoli quickly returned to Serie A and have not won the title since Maradona delivered two of them, they have consistently been one of the best teams in the country.
This season, they have claimed the maximum points in their first three matches, including a 2-1 win over Juventus on Saturday. They represent a tough test for Leicester and have cleared Victor Osimhen and David Ospina to play despite recent visits to red-list countries.
De Laurentiis’s Napoli travel to Leicester in a sensational form in Italy on Thursday
De Laurentiis is a big fan of English football – ‘we Italians should learn from this’ – yet he and the owners fear young people are turning their backs on football.
De Laurentiis, 72, warned: ‘If we don’t change the rules of the game and make it a better spectacle, the youth will leave us and football will no longer be a central part of our lives. My research tells me that people between the ages of eight and 25 have stopped watching football and prefer to play with smartphones – they have completely replaced our kids.
“I am not saying that the habit of watching live football in stadiums will end, but now we have a ‘virtual stadium’ which can attract billions of people to play games against each other.
‘Who knows if we’ll be able to get them back on their way to the greatest and most influential sport in the world?’