By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - A breakaway European soccer Super League would be a 'natural evolution' of the game and may be inevitable, former Manchester City chief executive Garry Cook said on Wednesday.
German magazine Der Spiegel and European Investigative Collaborations, a network of international media, reported last week that plans for a Super League, involving top clubs such as Real Madrid and Manchester United, were back on the table.
The European Leagues group (EL), representing 25 domestic leagues including England's Premier League, Germany's Bundesliga and Spain's La Liga, voiced "strong opposition" to any such plan on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters after a Sport Industry Breakfast Club event in London, Cook said all sectors of industry evolved.
"I think we’re watching the natural evolution... the supermarket industry was built out of the fact that you combined the greengrocer, the butcher, the baker and they rationalised to create one big, super size.
"I think there’s always going to be a demand to watch that very fine, elite level in all walks of life and consume at that level at the very top," added the Briton, who worked for Manchester City from 2008-11 and is now chief executive of esports company Gfinity.
"If football is going to go on a path that would be evolutionary, it would be the fact that the top 16 clubs in Europe are going to join together to create an entity that is marketable for additional growth economically."
According to Der Spiegel, a 16-team Super League would replace the Champions League and feature 11 'founders' -- including Barcelona and Real Madrid -- who could not be relegated for the first 20 years.
Manchester City would fall into that category along with Premier League rivals Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.
There would also be five "guest" clubs.
Asked how far away he thought a Super League might be, Cook suggested a number of factors could come into play, including the departure at the end of this year of Premier league Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore.
"It’s inevitable on the basis that it would follow the trajectory of traditional industry. There’s always the demand to watch the very few play the very best. And so if you imagine that, then it’s inevitable," Cook added.
"If there’s enough groundswell, there will be a movement for change. The same way as there was in 1992 when a few of them (clubs) decided ‘You know what? We’d be better off if we had a thing called the Premier League'.
"And lo and behold here we are 30 years later debating what’s next. So that’s where I go rational evolution means that something is going to change."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)