Top European clubs could play in new Qatar league
Qatar is hoping to attract Europe’s biggest clubs to compete in a biennial tournament that would dwarf the Uefa Champions League — in financial terms at least — according to reports in the British media on Wednesday.
The Times claims the proposed Dream Football League, scheduled to begin in 2015, would feature 24 clubs and be played in six cities in Qatar and other Gulf countries, possibly including the UAE, at the height of summer. It would be held every other year to avoid clashing with World Cups and European Championships.
The media reports go on to say that organisers hope to lure four English teams — possibly including Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool or Tottenham — with staggering appearance fees of up to Â£175 million [Dh961.4 million]. The Champions League has an annual prize fund of Â£595 million and Chelsea claimed the relatively small figure of Â£47.3 million for winning the competition last season.
Qatar were surprisingly chosen to host the 2022 Fifa World Cup and this tournament could be seen as a way to prove top-level football can be played in the state during the summer, when temperatures average above 40 degrees Celsius. The Dream Football League would be a way of testing out the air-conditioned stadiums Qatar plan to use during the World Cup.
Details of the plans will reportedly be released next month, but the media reports claim the league will feature 16 “permanent” members, plus eight others from around the world, who would be invited to compete.
Qatar has become a major player on the European football scene in recent years with its involvement in particular in French club Paris St-Germain (PSG) and Spanish giants Barcelona. Qatar Sports Investment are the owners of Ligue 1 leaders PSG, while Barca’s shirts are currently sponsored by the Qatar Foundation, who will be replaced by Qatar Airways from July.
Uefa and the English Premier League are yet to respond to the proposals.
Some media outlets have dismissed the reports as a hoax, but The Times reporter Oliver Kay took to Twitter to insist the Qataris are serious.