Earlier today, Tony Evans told me that Oliver Kay was working on this story for the Times “for weeks” in contact with top officials at various football clubs. The Times follow up article to the DFL story said as follows:
Paris Saint-Germain, owned by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), are known to be in favour [of the DFL], but, reassuringly for those who consider the proposal to be a nightmarish vision, it has yet to gain traction among European football’s establishment.
I just got off the phone with a media representative for Nasser Al Khelaifi, the chairman of PSG-QSI. He said, unequivocally, that no one had ever been in any contact with anyone from the club in relation to this story, except for a Sky Sports reporter on Wednesday once the DFL story broke. That includes Oliver Kay. They had not heard of any plan of this nature prior to Wednesday. They have not heard from anyone connected to the Times in relation to a follow up since.
The person in question also spoke to this statement in the Times follow up report:
While the DFL concept might appeal to the capitalist tendencies of the Glazer family, who own United, the club’s hierarchy in Manchester — led by David Gill, who will continue to exert strong influence when he stands down as chief executive in June — are vehemently opposed to such plans.
Gill recently stood down from his position on the board of the ECA, to be replaced by Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive, as he pursues a place on the Uefa executive committee in an attempt to gain more influence for himself and England in European football’s corridors of power. Gill’s position is heavily pro-establishment, with a strong desire to protect the status quo and in particular a competition structure that Uefa wish to safeguard.
The establishment position was reflected at last month’s ECA general assembly in Doha, when PSG officials were explicitly warned, about the dangers of an aggressive approach not just to expenditure but on strategic issues.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the Bayern and ECA chairman, specifically told the PSG delegation: “What you are doing is not positive for football.”
Rummenigge warned the PSG delegation of the need to realise that self- interest of one or two clubs cannot be allowed to overrun an organisation representing 207 clubs from 53 associations. When an internal survey was held about the future of the Champions League and Europa League, 75 per cent expressed “satisfaction of extreme satisfaction” with the existing format, which figures such as Rummenigge regard as a powerful rebuttal of threats to the club competition structure.
The PSG-QSI spokesman not only denied this, but they said the only PSG representative presentin Doha (and they can confirm this) was the club financial manager (not a person in any position to speak on these matters), who said he never had this conversation with the chairman. He said the above account was a complete fantasy.
Of course this could be an elaborate conspiracy. But then if it is, both Manchester United, PSG, QSI and the Qatar FA are going to look awfully foolish once, as Evans promised me, “the truth comes out” and a league dreamed up on a French website turns out to be real.
There’s more…I’m awaiting confirmation. Stay tuned (I hope)…