Florentino Perez took to the radio in a last-gasp attempt to keep his Super League dream alive on Wednesday night.
The president of the controversial competition, which was met with a huge backlash when it was announced on Sunday, discussed teams U-turning, penalisation fees for leaving, Jurgen Klopp and Chelsea supporters in a wide-ranging and, in places, bizarre interview.
Perez began by discussing the elephant in the room – the six Premier League clubs pulling out of the Super League and leaving the tournament in tatters.
And he claimed that there was a rotten apple in the bunch that ultimately infected the group.
Perez told the El Larguero radio station: “There was someone in the English six clubs who did not have much interest. That started to affect the others, there was fear. One of the English clubs was never really convinced.”
Perez doesn’t name the club, but it appears either Chelsea or Manchester City are the most likely candidate.
Murmurs Chelsea were getting cold feet emerged on Tuesday night before Manchester City became the first club to issue a statement saying they were backing out of the competition.
Perez went on to issue something of a threat to the clubs who confirmed they are leaving, reminding them why the plan for a Super League was hatched in the first place.
“There are people with privileges who do not want to lose them and are willing to run clubs, although when the clubs are ruined they will lose their privileges,” said Perez.
As unhappy as Perez is that the English teams pulled out of the competition and ruined its worth, he is somewhat sympathetic to their reason for doing so.
“The English clubs tried to do something, but they were being told they were killing football. But there is no other solution than the Super League. Or somebody invents something else,” added Perez.
“They are leaving due to UEFA putting on a show, which surprised me. I don’t want to get into it with the UEFA president, but he needs to be able to talk. It was like we had thrown an atomic bomb.
“They did not let us explain, as they did not want anything to change.”
On the protests in England, he appeared to suggest they had been orchestrated by a higher power, adding: “There were only 40 Chelsea fans, and I could tell who brought them.”
“Who brought those Chelsea fans to protest? Someone moved them.”
As the interview progressed the Real Madrid president also discussed finances and provided clarity on his motives.
“It cannot be that in England, the six lose money, and 14 make money. In Spain, the top three lose money, and the others make money. It cannot continue – at the moment the rich are those who are losing money,” he said.
Following the decision of the Premier League big six to back out of the competition, La Liga giants Atletico Madrid and Serie A outfit Inter Milan did the same thing.
There are murmurs that Barcelona may soon follow suit, while AC Milan and Real Madrid are still standing firm.
Perez admits the Super League is looking less likely now, but is determined to still make it work, and believes there is a chance it can be altered with fewer teams in the competition.
He said: “Juventus and Milan have not left. Barca are thinking about it. Maybe we can change it a bit – that the top four in England enter, the top four in Spain. The important thing is that the big teams play each other, so the kids will watch football.
“The founder clubs believed in this project. It is not dead. We will keep working.”
Another big question of the night was whether the clubs who have backed out of the competition are liable to fines.
Perez has previously made it very clear that the 12 founding clubs all signed ‘binding contracts’, which prevents them from backing out of the competition should they get cold feet.
But Perez is remaining calm on this front.
He is yet to threaten any of the big six with a fine as – as far as he is concerned – the Premier League’s big six are still very much involved in the competition, despite their statements to the contrary.
“Nobody has yet paid the penalisation fee for leaving. We are almost all still in this, they have not left yet,” said Perez.
“All 12 founder clubs signed the same contract, not a comma more or less.”
Finally, and a little off-topic, although Jurgen Klopp isn’t likely to be in Perez’s good books after he failed to provide a ringing endorsement of the Super League and Liverpool later back out of the competition, Perez aimed a dig at the Reds boss.
The Super League chief, now in his role as Real Madrid president, referred to Los Blancos’ recent Champions League win over Liverpool and comments made by Klopp about having to play the away leg on the training pitch rather than at the Bernabeu.
“I don’t know why Klopp did not like Valdebebas,” said Perez. “Here and in Kiev, the same score, 3-1.”