December 7, 2017 / 6:50 PM / a year ago

Soccer-Even big clubs agree Europe's rich-poor divide is too wide, says Ceferin

NYON, Switzerland, Dec 7 (Reuters) - The financial gap between Europe’s top sides and the rest is so wide that even the big clubs agree that something must be done about it, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said on Thursday.

Ceferin said he was looking at measures which could be taken to even things out although he could not promise to eliminate the gap completely.

His comments came after this season’s Champions League group stage was punctuated by some embarrassingly one-sided contests, including three games where one team scored seven goals.

Paris St Germain, who broke the world transfer record when they bought Neymar from Barcelona in the close season, had one 7-1 win, two 5-0 scorelines and a 4-0 win among their six group games.

The final standings in the eight groups were much as expected with only a few minor surprises such as Shakhtar Donetsk edging Napoli for a place in the round of 16.

“We have some measures we are discussing with stakeholders already and you may be surprised to hear that even the big clubs are interested in something happening,” he said.

“We will have to do something in the future and we are already working on it.”

Ceferin said he hoped to have some measures in place when his mandate ends in 18 months’ time, though he added: “If I promised to make the gap between the big and small clubs disappear, that would not be very realistic.”

The Slovenian has previously said that the rich-poor divide is the most serious problem facing European football and has mentioned a so-called luxury tax and a salary cap as possible solutions.

He said, however, that the lucrative competition remained unparalleled in club football.

“The Champions League is still the best club competition in the world, it hasn’t lost any appeal,” he said.

Ceferin said UEFA had little information from FIFA concerning proposals for a possible 24-team Club World Cup to replace the current seven-team version.

“We practically don’t know anything, so it’s very hard to say if we support it or not, or if clubs support it, or if leagues support it,” he said.

“It’s too early to say anything because we simply don’t know enough. If we got a proper presentation (from FIFA), then we can discuss it, firstly with our executive committee, our member associations and other stakeholders. Then we can have a common approach.” (Reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis)

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