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US sports exec. causes a stir with Champions League comments

2015/16 draw for preliminary rounds of UEFA Champions League

2015/16 draw for preliminary rounds of UEFA Champions League

Getty Images

A leading soccer executive from the U.S. who is the founder of the International Champions Cup competition has angered plenty of people after meeting some of the biggest clubs in the Premier League.

Chairman of Relevent Sports, Charlie Stillitano, has caused quite a kerfuffle indeed.

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According to the Associated Press, Stillitano held talks with Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United on Tuesday in London about the ICC but also about “restructuring the Champions League” and how teams can qualify for it.

Speaking on Sirius XM, Stillitano revealed that European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, wants to work closer with the ICC and he even confirmed talks between the two in the past about their summer tournament which now takes place in China, North America and Australia each summer, attracting the biggest clubs and players on the planet.

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Below are a few snippets which have upset plenty, as traditionalists continue to shudder at the example of not letting Leicester enter the UCL if they won the PL but instead allowing eight-placed Liverpool to qualify because they’re a bigger club and, in theory, would generate more revenue for the competition and vice versa...

Stillitano revealed he met with Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward this week.

“What would Manchester United argue: did we create soccer or did Leicester create [it]? Let’s call it the money pot created by soccer and the fandom around the world. Who has had more of an integral role, Manchester United or Leicester? It’s a wonderful, wonderful story – but you could see it from Manchester United’s point of view, too.”

So Leicester making the UCL wouldn’t be fantastic? Stillitano continues.

“Maybe that is absolutely spectacular unless you are a Manchester United fan, Liverpool fan … or a Chelsea fan. I guess they don’t have a birthright to be in it every year but it’s the age-old argument: US sports franchises versus what they have in Europe. There are wonderful, wonderful, wonderful elements to relegation and promotion and there are good arguments for a closed system.”

He also got plenty of flack for the following comment.

“This is going to sound arrogant and it’s the furthest thing from it … but suddenly when you see the teams we have this summer in the ICC you are going to shake your head and say, ‘Isn’t that the Champions League?’ No, the Champions League is PSV and Ghent.”

Stillitano also claimed he hears lots of complaints from top clubs could be even more visible on the world soccer scene.

“I could make a lot more money, I can be a lot more visible, I can help my sponsors out but right now I am locked into doing certain things that are really historic.”

I think he will be pretty visible now.