FC Copenhagen CEO confirms Atlantic League talks

FC Copenhagen CEO Anders Horsholt has confirmed talks are taking place over an international league involving the biggest clubs in Scandinavia, Scotland, the Netherlands and Belgium.

The idea for an "Atlantic League" -- which would involve clubs such as Ajax, Celtic and Rangers -- was first suggested in the late 1990s and has been revisited periodically.

Scotland's Daily Record newspaper reported in February that Celtic had requested talks with Ajax about the possibility of such a league amid fears the Champions League could become an invitation-only event.

Horsholt has now confirmed to Danish newspaper BT that Copenhagen are among the clubs holding discussions over a revival of that idea as they seek to stay competitive with Europe's elite clubs.

"Yes, it's true," he said. "If we do not act now, we will see the biggest clubs grow larger and stronger while it will be increasingly difficult for clubs like us. We must therefore look at alternative international opportunities for FCK [Copenhagen] in the future. It is still too early to talk about specific models, but the discussion of leagues across European borders is a topic we look at and actively participate in."

BT reported that Copenhagen had held several meetings with clubs that have a large profile within their home nations but cannot compete with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus and the top Premier League sides.

UEFA has already approved changes to the Champions League that will give Europe's top four leagues four guaranteed places in the group stage from 2018-19, which has attracted criticism, and there is little suggestion the playing field will be levelled when the next cycle begins in 2021.

"We fully understand why the big clubs act the way they do, but it also means we have to look at the market that creates and seek alliances with the clubs in other countries who are in the same situation," Horsholt said. "This is not a situation we have created but we have to deal with it, because we cannot live with the alternatives."

He confirmed his club would be willing to leave the Danish Superliga.

"The consequences of this development may ultimately mean that FCK and other European clubs that will be part of a new European league will step out of their domestic leagues," he said. "It is still way in the future, but it may well be the result."

He said that once UEFA made the changes to the Champions League to reduce the amount of places available to smaller leagues, "we have to look at how we can secure our future as an international club. In short, we have no alternative."