European Super League organisers have backed down, saying they will “reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project”, following the swift collapse of their proposed breakaway league.
The competition had been left in crisis as all six English Premier League signatories, including Liverpool, Manchester United, Spurs and Arsenal confirmed their exits, and reports said Serie A clubs Inter and AC Milan were set to follow suit.
- The proposed European Super League is on the brink within days of its announcement, with six of the 12 original participants signalling they are pulling out
- Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal have released statements confirming their exit, and Chelsea is reported to be preparing to do the same
- The fallout from the controversial proposal has seen fans protest outside a Chelsea game and a key Manchester United executive tender his resignation
“The European Super League is convinced that the current status quo of European football needs to change,” organisers said in a statement.
“Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due to the pressure put on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations as was demonstrated today by a court decision to protect the Super League from third party actions.
“Given the circumstances, we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project, always having in mind our goals of offering fans the best experience possible while enhancing solidarity payments for the entire football community,” they added.
The initial announcement of the new league on Sunday had been followed by a backlash from fans, pundits, administrators and broadcasters, and events moved quickly on Wednesday morning (AEST).
Liverpool, United, Spurs and Arsenal all released statements within minutes confirming they would no longer take part.
Earlier, Manchester City was the first of the 12 founding clubs to signal their departure, with a one-line statement.
Chelsea also pulled out of the competition, after a dramatic few hours where hundreds of Blues fans demonstrated outside their club’s West London ground Stamford Bridge, voicing their opposition to the proposal.
Petr Cech — a former Champions League-winning goalkeeper who played for Chelsea for more than a decade — was seen pleading with fans outside the ground as they blocked the players’ bus from entering the stadium.
Cech, now a performance and technical adviser at Chelsea, could be heard on video posted on Twitter imploring with fans: “Let people sort this out, but this is not the thing.
“Let people in. Let the bus go in. Give people time.”
Chelsea’s players were attempting to enter the stadium in time for a Premier League fixture against Brighton. The demonstration delayed the kick-off.
Following the game, Chelsea put out a short statement acknowledging it was beginning the process to withdraw from the Super League.
Adding to the sense of disarray, Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, one of the key players in the breakaway move, tendered his resignation to the club.
Pressure also rose at Liverpool, as players posted on social media urging the club to desert the Super League.
“We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen,” Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson tweeted.
“This is our collective position.”
The Super League argued it would increase revenues to the competing clubs and allow them to distribute more money to the rest of the game.
However, the sport’s governing bodies, other teams and fan organisations were saying it would increase the power and wealth of the elite clubs and the closed structure of the league went against European football’s long-standing model.
Unlike Europe’s current elite Champions League competition, where teams have to qualify through their domestic league, the founding Super League teams would guarantee themselves a place in the new competition every year.
The president of European soccer’s governing body UEFA, Aleksander Ceferin, was quick to welcome City’s decision.
“I am delighted to welcome City back to the European football family,” he said.
“It takes courage to admit a mistake, but I have never doubted that they had the ability and common sense to make that decision,” he added.
The Super League organisation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.