Madrid (AFP) – Real Madrid president Florentino Perez on Sunday said the coronavirus pandemic had increased the need for the creation of a new elite league.

“Football needs new formulas to make it more competitive, more exciting, and stronger,” Perez told club members at the annual meeting held online on Sunday.

Perez also said that the pandemic had cost Real Madrid 106 million euros ($130 million) in lost income, but cost-cutting meant the club had still managed to make a 313,000-euro profit.

The biggest clubs have long lobbied for European competitions to be structured in a way that guarantees them a greater share of the revenue.

“This model needs a new impulse,” he said. “The impact of Covid-19 strongly demands new changes. Football has to face this new time.”

“Reforming football cannot wait and we have to get down to it as soon as possible. The biggest clubs in Europe have millions of fans spread across the world. We have the responsibility to fight for this change,” he added.

The latest plan for a Super League surfaced through a series of leaked emails and documents in November 2018 which suggested that many of Europe’s biggest clubs were working on plans for a 16-team Super League to kick off as early as 2021.

When Josep Maria Bartomeu stood down as president of Real’s great rivals Barcelona in October he called for “a future European Super League” which “would guarantee the financial stability of the club”.

UEFA, the governing body of European football, immediately reiterated its “strong opposition” to the idea.

In early December, British daily The Times reported that UEFA was working on a Champions League reform plan that would see all sides in the competition compete in one league and play 10 different opponents, selected by a draw.

The format dubbed the “Swiss system” is designed to avoid meaningless matches in the group stage.

Real’s members approved a budget for this season of 617 million euros, down from the 822.1 million euros last season.

Perez said the club planned to ask executives, players and coaches to continue the pay cut they agreed last season.

“The management we’ve been carrying out all these years has allowed us to maintain a very solvent financial position which, in light of this immense crisis we are living through as a result of the pandemic, has allowed us to navigate serenely through what is a difficult situation,” Perez said.

“The reality is that all big football clubs are suffering this significant financial blow and we’re not immune to it either.”