Napoli boss wants to spice up 'boring' European football with 80-team tournament

Milan (AFP) –


Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis on Monday called for the Champions League and Europa League to be abolished and replaced with a new 80-team competition in order to revive "boring" European football.

Napoli sealed second place in Serie A for the second consecutive season on Sunday, after a last-gasp 2-1 win over Cagliari.

But film-producer De Laurentiis, who bankrolls Napoli, believes UEFA's two European club competitions are outdated, proposing a new format that would see 80 teams compete in a single competition.

"The Champions League and the Europa League should be abolished," De Laurentiis told Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

"The Champions League is now for a select few, while the Europa League has become a sort of consolation prize. It's all very outdated.

"Our football is becoming boring. We are often confronted with the same sparring partners."

De Laurentiis proposes a single tournament with "the top seven teams from the Italian, French, English, German and Spanish leagues and the first four of the Portuguese, Dutch, Belgian, Swedish and all the other leagues".

The teams would be divided into four groups of 20 teams, with a draw to decide the calendar and who plays at home.

"I would call it the European Cup and the games would be played on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, thus respecting the placement of the national championships over the weekend," the 69-year-old said

The Napoli boss opposes plans by the European Club Association (ECA) and its president Andrea Agnelli, who is also the boss of Serie A rivals Juventus, to play the group stage with four groups of eight teams.

This new Champions League would be closer to a closed league, the first six of each pool being directly qualified for the next edition, regardless of their championship standings.

"Agnelli is an intelligent man, I cannot believe he has a tournament like this in mind that would be harmful for the rest of European football," said De Laurentiis.

"It's a formula that could work initially but in the end would drive away a good portion of the public and fans from the world of football."

Juventus once again dominated the Italian league this season, winning an eighth consecutive Serie A title with weeks to spare.

But the Napoli president backed former Real Madrid, AC Milan and Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, who took over as coach this season, despite his failure to even challenge for a first Serie A title since 1990.

"I am satisfied with the work of Ancelotti," he said.

"With (Cristiano) Ronaldo, Juventus has raised the points bar, but we are competing with one of the best European teams."