'It is madness' - Torino chief on proposed Champions League reform

Introducing promotion and relegation to the Champions League would "kill" Italian and European football, says Torino chief Urbano Cairo.

Torino president Urbano Cairo   -  Getty Images

Torino president Urbano Cairo branded proposed format changes to the Champions League "madness" and "a nefarious scandal" in a scathing tirade aimed at Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli.

Cairo underlined his staunch opposition to the introduction of promotion and relegation to the Champions League, which is set to be discussed at a meeting of the European Club Association (ECA) in June. The ECA is chaired by Juve supremo Agnelli, who Cairo accused of putting his own interests above those of Italian and European football.

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"Here is someone who, to increase their turnover, proposes killing Italian and European football," Cairo said of Agnelli to Tuttosport.

"They want to create a Champions League for a chosen few, formed by a group of teams who always play in the major European competition every year, regardless of the placement in the league - in practice, a closed circle, or as closed as possible.

"[This is] all to make the richest clubs richer and the less wealthy ever poorer.

"The national championships will be of less and less interest to the people and also to the media, if they do not give the possibility to many teams to qualify for Europe, as happens now.

"It is madness. It is a shame. It is a nefarious scandal, disrespectful to people and to the very concept of sport."

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Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is among proponents of changes to the format of the Champions League, calling for more opportunities for Europe's top sides to play each other.

Bartomeu said he backed an "evolution" of the Champions League, but Cairo does not want to see it improved at the expense of other competitions.

"It is an absurd proposal because it is profoundly wrong," said Cairo. "The Coppa Italia semi-finals just had a higher audience than the Champions League semi-final between [Lionel] Messi's Barcelona and Liverpool. This means that people love traditional football and want to cheer for their own teams, big or small, and want to be able to dream."