The Champions League could be replaced by a rival tournament backed by a Chinese billionaire

Barcelona footballGetty Images Sport(L-R) FC Barcelona’s Busquets, Neymar, Suarez and Messi

The head of Spain’s premier football league backed a Chinese plan for a competition to rival the Champions League, according to a report in Friday’s Financial Times.

Javier Tebas, president of Spain’s two professional football leagues, said there was a “greater opportunity to generate greater revenue” with a tournament backed by the richest man in China.

Billionaire Wang Jianlin’s conglomerate, Dalian Wanda, is working on proposals to create a competition heavily favouring Europe’s ‘Big Five’ leagues – England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.

Football chiefs in Spain are increasingly worried that huge domestic broadcasting deals for the English and German leagues are giving their teams a competitive advantage, and see revenue from European competitions as a means of gaining it back.

Tebas said that he had been attracted to Wanda’s proposals since Uefa announced plans to shake up its Champions League competition “without seriously consulting — in detail — their broader reform plans with the other national leagues.”

Football-mad China has spent billions of pounds buying stakes in European football clubs in the past year, since President Xi Jinping announced his intention to turn China into a “great sports nation” capable of winning the football world cup.

Financial dominance over European football – and the huge broadcasting revenues it brings – is another aim.

Marco Bogarelli, strategic director of Wanda, said in July that the group are also in talks with the English Premier League, Germany Bundesliga and French Ligue 1.

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