Leicester City have taken the Premier League by storm this season. After a dramatic resurgence at the end of last season, the Foxes have risen from relegation dogfighters to title favourites.
Unless Claudio Ranieri’s side suffer a complete collapse over the course of the remaining fixtures, Leicester seem assured to secure Champions League football for the forthcoming campaign.
Leicester’s ascendency has delighted both their fans and neutrals alike with nearly all football fans enjoying a refreshed passion for the league – revelling in the heartwarming underdog tale.
Earlier this week, a high-profile meeting between the Premier League’s ‘big five’ clubs took place, featuring discussions over a breakaway competition that would guarantee the participation of Europe’s biggest clubs.
US Sports executive Charlie Stillitano has confirmed that talks took place between the Premier League’s biggest clubs regarding the prospect a European Super League, a competition where 10th-place Chelsea are more deserving of a spot in the elite competition than leaders Leicester City.
Major shareholder’s from the ‘Big Five’ clubs in English football all met at London’s Dorchester Hotel for discussions with representatives of American billionaire Stephen Ross, over the possible formation of a breakaway super league; a competition designed to replace UEFA’s Champions League.
The pre-season competition would be known as the International Champions Cup (ICC) tournament, which Ross’ company Relevant Sports operates.
Stillitano, chairman of Relevant Sports, confirmed that alongside ICC talks, a discussion was also had over a proposed “restructuring of the Champions League” that would guarantee the participation of the biggest and most popular clubs in the world, even at the expense of the likes of high-flying Leicester.
As Stillitano described to US radio station SiriusXM:
“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.
“Maybe that [Leicester being in the Champions League] 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.”
Stillitano also revealed that Relevant Sports had been in discussion with UEFA previously regarding the ICC and has even suggested that the pre-season tournament is currently more prestigious than the now ‘minnow-heavy’ Champions League competition:
“We have talked to Uefa in the past because they had an interest in our summer tournament. That is something they would like to integrate into their portfolio,” he explained.
“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 Gent.”
Charlie Stillitano certainly isn’t winning himself any friends in Leicestershire lumping the quality of KAA Gent together with title favourites Leicester City!