All six English clubs withdraw from Super League, putting competition in shambles
After an angry backlash from supporters and warnings from football officials, the planned European Super League seemed to be dead in the water on Wednesday. All six English clubs withdrew.
Following a heated backlash from supporters and threats from football officials, the planned European Super League seemed to be dead in the water on Wednesday. All six English clubs withdrew. Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal were among the 12 clubs that signed up for the breakaway competition, which promised annual spots and billions of dollars to the founding members.
However, politicians and football officials have slammed the proposals, threatening legal action by the so-called "dirty dozen," who were told they could be banned from domestic and continental competitions. The city was the first team to pull out, followed by United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, and eventually Chelsea, all within 48 hours of the Super League's announcement.
Just six Spanish and Italian clubs remain in the competition: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus. Manchester United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has resigned, and Arsenal has apologised to fans for their "mistake."
"We are withdrawing from the proposed Super League as a result of listening to you and the broader football community over recent days," Arsenal said in a statement.
"We made a blunder, and we sincerely apologise."
"The current structure does not work," the Super League said, adding that it will look for ways to save the company.
According to a statement, "we will consider the most necessary measures to reshape the project."
The withdrawals were accepted by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, as well as the English Football Association, which praised fans for "their influential and unequivocal voice."
Bayern Munich, the reigning European champions, and Paris Saint-Germain, the French giants, have both come out strongly against the breakaway league. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson issued the following statement on behalf of the team: "We despise it and do not want it to occur. This is our place as a community." Manchester United declared Woodward's departure from the club at the end of 2021, capping a day of intense drama.
Ceferin had earlier told the owners, especially those of the Premier League teams involved, that there was still time for them to withdraw. "Some will argue it's greed, while others will say it's a total lack of understanding of England's football culture," he said. "It's not too late to change your mind. All make mistakes from time to time."
Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, sent a strong message to the ESL's heavyweight clubs. "It is our responsibility to defend the European sport model," Infantino said at UEFA's congress in Switzerland. "If any want to go their own way, they must live with the implications of their decisions."
Before Tuesday's Premier League match against Brighton, which ended in a 0-0 draw, over 1,000 fans gathered outside Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium to protest the programme. "RIP Football 1863 - 2021," "Created by the poor, robbed by the wealthy," "We want our cold nights in Stoke," and "Roman do the right thing" were among the signs held up by fans in reference to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
Tom Cunningham, a Chelsea fan, said he was "over the moon" when news broke that the club was planning to pull out. He said, "Greed has not prospered." "We're here, we're the people, we're numerous fans, and we've triumphed over disgusting greed."
Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, met with Premier League players, the FA, and fan groups earlier this week, vowing to do everything in his power to stop the ESL programme. "The decision by Chelsea and Manchester City is –- if confirmed –- totally the right one and I applaud them for it," he tweeted before City's decision was confirmed.
The European giants created the 20-team ESL to ensure revenue from daily matches against one another while avoiding the possibility of failing to qualify for 15 founding members. And their own players and coaches, however, slammed the proposal for behaving like a closed store. "It's not a sport if there isn't a connection between effort and reward," Pep Guardiola, Manchester City's manager, said. "It's not a sport if you know you'll win, and it's not a sport if you don't care if you lose."
The 12 teams had agreed to share a pot worth more than 3.5 billion euros ($4.2 billion), significantly increasing their earnings, which had been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Five more clubs would have had to apply each year for the midweek competition, in addition to the 15 permanent participants, under the proposals announced late Sunday.
Currently, teams must qualify for the Champions League each year through national competitions and then compete in a group stage before progressing to the high-profile final stages.