Super League collapses as English clubs pull out

April 21, 2021 Sports
The proposed European Super League collapsed on Tuesday after Premier League clubs withdrew from the deeply divisive project following a furious backlash by fans and threats from football authorities.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal were six of the 12 leading European clubs to initially register with the breakaway competition made to guarantee spots every year and vast amounts of dollars for its founding members.

But a reaction to the plans has been scathing, with politicians and football authorities threatening to take legal action against the so-called "dirty dozen", who were told they faced potential bans from domestic and continental competitions.
United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham joined Manchester City in withdrawing from the proposed Super League, with Chelsea reportedly set to follow.

That leaves just six sides -- Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus still mixed up in project -- which is apparently dead.

City had issued a statement announcing these were taking out of the project after feverish speculation that the Premier League leaders and Chelsea were set to withdraw.

"Manchester City SOCCER TEAM can confirm that it has formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League," the club said in a short statement.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said he was "delighted" by City's decision to grab, with the other clubs issuing similar statements.

The English Football Association said it welcomed moves by clubs to abandon plans for the Super League, praising fans for "their influential and unequivocal voice".

Reigning European champions Bayern Munich and French giants Paris Saint-Germain both arrived strongly against the breakaway league.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson tweeted a statement on behalf of the squad, saying: "We don't like it and we don't want it to happen. This is our collective position."

On a day of powerful drama, Manchester United announced that executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward would step down from his role towards the end of 2021.

Earlier, Ceferin, addressing the owners, particularly of the Premier League teams involved, said there is still time for clubs to grab.

"Some will say it really is greed, some complete ignorance of England's football culture," he said. "There's still time to improve your brain. Everyone makes mistakes."

FIFA president Gianni Infantino issued a stark warning to the heavyweight clubs who had registered to the ESL.

"It really is our task to protect the European sport model, so if some elect to go their own way they must live with the results of their choices," Infantino said at UEFA's congress in Switzerland.

Chelsea protest

A lot more than 1,000 fans gathered outside Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium to protest against the plan before Tuesday's Premier League match against Brighton, which ended in a 0-0 draw.

Fans organized signs reading: "RIP Football 1863 - 2021", "Created by the poor, stolen by the rich", "We wish our cold nights in Stoke" and "Roman do the right thing" -- in mention of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

Significantly less than two hours following the protesters made their feelings known, it was first reported that Chelsea were preparing documentation to withdraw from the competition.

Abramovich is understood to have driven your choice, which is yet to be produced official.

British Prime Minster Boris Johnson earlier met Premier League clubs, the FA and fan groups, vowing to accomplish all in his power to kill the ESL plan.

He tweeted later, before City's decision was confirmed: "The decision by Chelsea and Manchester City is - if confirmed - absolutely the right one and I commend them for it."

The 20-team ESL was created by the European giants to ensure earnings from regular matches against each other without the risk of failing to qualify for 15 founder members.

'It's not really a sport'

However, the program was fiercely criticised by even their own players and managers for acting as a closed shop.

"It isn't a sport when the relation between effort and reward doesn't exist," said Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

"It's not a sport when success has already been guaranteed, it's not a sport if no matter whether you lose."

The 12 teams had registered to share within an initial pot of more than 3.5 billion euros ($4.2 billion) -- vastly boosting their revenues, which have been badly hit through the coronavirus pandemic.

Beneath the proposals, announced late Sunday, five more clubs could have had to be eligible for the 20-team midweek competition, joining the 15 everlasting members.

Currently, teams need to qualify for the Champions League every year through their national competitions, and survive an organization phase before achieving the high-profile latter stages.

The breakaway announcement came just hours before UEFA announced a fresh, 36-team format for the Champions League, which have been conceived to placate the continent's biggest clubs.
Source: Thedailystar - Sports