Unal Aysal, president of Galatasaray, told the Leaders in Football conference yesterday that discussions had taken place over the top 20 clubs in Europe breaking away to form a new league, with "three to five teams" dropping in and out every year. Under the proposals, clubs in the superleague would still play in their domestic leagues.
Both UEFA and the European Club Association (ECA) said such talk was wide of the mark but Aysal was insistent that change is both necessary and imminent. "We have arrived in a stagnant situation in European football, we are not improving too much," he said. "This will open a new chapter in European football.
"The top 15-20 big clubs of Europe all agree with this. There may be one or two exceptions for local reasons, political reasons, and I will understand, but as the future for European clubs and the future of football, nobody can say no to this. At the moment it looks like a dream, a vision. I am sure sooner or later, in a maximum of five years' time, it will be a reality. Football is a great industry, a growing industry. A European superleague would bring a lot of support and energise football in general.
"I think it would be 20 big teams, with three to five teams changing every year. It can be fixed in a way to be useful to European football and bring new horizons to football.
"It can be controlled by UEFA or the clubs - preferably by the clubs. Clubs will have to reach standards set by certain criteria like financial fair play. It would be good for all European clubs to participate in this league."
Andrea Agnelli, president of Juventus, wondered whether clubs would have the "discipline" to cede from UEFA. "If one wants to break out of the system then probably the best competition is a closed competition with the 20 best European clubs," he said. "We can have a secession but do 20 clubs have the discipline to send a letter to UEFA and to organise a competition overnight?"
A spokesman for the ruling body said it was not aware of any plans to form a new league, while Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of the ECA, said there are no plans among the clubs to actively pursue an alternative to the Champions League.
"Our European Super League is the UEFA Champions League," said Rummenigge. "We are very happy with the current competitions and our extremely fruitful collaboration with UEFA. We will continue to work together with UEFA, and this beyond 2018 [when the contract between UEFA and ECA expires]."
"The ECA has taken note of comments made regarding the alleged creation of a European Super League in 2018. ECA underlines that such an idea was never discussed within the association and never figured on any meeting agenda."
Agnelli later clarified his comments to reporters by saying he had merely been taking an "academic" position.
"If you are part of a system you accept that system and want to improve the system," he said.
The Champions League, which replaced the European Cup in 1992-93, has grown to be widely accepted as the premier club competition in global sport, generating billions in revenue every season.
Aysal also said two major brands had expressed an interest in sponsoring a new league, adding that he did not expect clubs to break away from their domestic leagues but to have squads of 40 or 50 players, some of whom would play domestic league matches and others European games.