LONDON: Even clubs such as super-wealthy Real Madrid need more protection from the top-heavy regulatory zeal of European federation UEFA, according to one of the European champions’ vice-presidents.

Pedro Lopez Jimenez, an executive board member of the European Club Association and a vice-president of Madrid, spoke in cautionary terms about UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations at the Leaders Sport Business Summit* in London.

Lopez claimed that the leading bigger clubs should be rewarded and encouraging for building the football audience not restricted and/or punished.

He said: “There is a need to defend big clubs because we are not only in the biggest sport in the world, we are in the biggest show business in the world.

“I agree with the needs for solidarity UEFA and FIFA, with their regulatory power, have an egalitarian pulse because they are using our players for all kinds of tournaments and things.

“We talk about the spending and, probably, we are talking in many cases about investing so really clubs are maybe spending more than they earn but they are investing in players who are young and, when they are young and do not reach their potential, there are economic consequences.

“We understand that we have to do something for solidarity but, at the end of the day, what attracts hundreds of millions of people to the game is the top clubs.”

In another whinge against draconian regulations, Lopez criticised UEFA’s disciplinary action against the club’s former midfielder, Xabi Alonso. He had celebrated the Champions League triumph in May with his team-mates on the pitch though he had been suspended from the final against Atletico de Madrid.

Lopez said: “Xabi ran to celebrate with his friends and was sanctioned because the rules are the rules. but in the document makes him look like a friend of Jack the Ripper.”

* Leaders Business Summit at Chelsea FC, Stamford Bridge, London