Eight of the 12 founding clubs included in the plans for the new European competition have submitted paperwork to withdraw, as the controversial project fizzles out.
On Sunday, 12 of Europe’s elite clubs were named as founding members of the breakaway project, designed to rival the UEFA Champions League.
Only two days passed before things started to unravel, however, with backlash from fans and negative media surrounding the European Super League (ESL) prompting eight of the instigators to publicly state their withdrawal from the project.
All six English clubs; Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Man United touted as founding members of the ESL have all backed out; Inter and Atletico Madrid have also announced their intention to walk away from the proposed Super League with Barcelona expected to follow soon.
An official statement from Arsenal on their official twitter account read: “As a result of listening to you and the wider football community over recent days we are withdrawing from the proposed Super League.
“We made a mistake, and we apologise for it.”
Ed Woodward, who is said to have led the charge for the implementation of the ESL in his role as executive vice-chairman of Manchester United has resigned and will be vacating his post at the end of the 2020/21 season.
Sources within the Super League camp were quoted to be hoping for the initial uproar to subside and to “weather the storm.” However, such did not happen as John W. Henry, owner of Liverpool FC, was forced apologise at the height of the furor and fan outrage at the idea of a closed-up European competition, saying “I want to apologise to all the fans and supporters of Liverpool Football Club for the disruption I caused over the past 48 hours,” Henry begins.
“It goes without saying but should be said that the project put forward was never going to stand without the support of the fans. No one ever thought differently in England.
“Over these 48 hours you were very clear that it would not stand. We heard you. I heard you.
“And I want to apologise to Jurgen, to Billy [Hogan, CEO], to the players and to everyone who works so hard at LFC to make our fans proud.
“They have absolutely no responsibility for this disruption. They were the most disrupted and unfairly so. This is what hurts most. They love your club and work to make you proud every single day.
“I can promise you I will do whatever I can to further that.”
Inter Milan also released a statement which read: “FC Internazionale Milano confirm that the club is no longer part of the Super League project.
“We are always committed to giving fans the best football experience; innovation and inclusion are part of our DNA since our foundation. Our engagement with all stakeholders to improve the football industry will never change.”
Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli, who is the original founder of the Super League despite admitting that it will be impossible for the competition to go ahead after seeing Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal become the first clubs to pull out has however stated that he remains “convinced of the beauty of that project,” however adding that “admittedly… I mean, I don’t think that that project is now still up and running.”
What next for the Super League?
As at the time of writing, only Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have yet to formally communicate that they too will no longer take part in the project.
The chief executive of Brighton and Hove Albion, Paul Barber, has called for “appropriate action” to be taken against the clubs involved on Wednesday morning, even though by then each had indicated their intention to withdraw.
As it stands, Real are still ‘in’ the Super League, though Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea, Man United, Tottenham, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Inter Milan have all formally backed out.
That would leave only Real, Barcelona and Juventus as founding clubs, though in an interview with Spanish radio show El Larguero, Perez has insisted the Super League “is not dead.”
“The founder clubs believed in this project. It is not dead. We will keep working,” Perez is quoted by The Athletic’s Dermot Corrigan.
BBC Sport cite Perez as claiming the 12 clubs are still legally committed, adding: “You cannot get out of the contract like this – they are binding contracts.”
The 74-year-old inferred that Man City “were not convinced” when they initially agreed to join the Super League and “that spread to the rest,” according to the Guardian.
“Then the avalanche started, the Premier League ‘heating things up’. They said: ‘We’re going to pull out for now’,” he continued.
He later said: “The owners are mostly not English. They’re not in it to make money, they have teams in America, love sport and they found themselves in a position they didn’t expect. They’re old, they got scared.”
It has been stated in many quarters that despite the hasty backtracking of the teams involved in the ESL proposal, the damage may have already been done with many a fan base thoroughly incensed.
The saga may be over for now but the repercussions continue to ripple across the world of football as the Super League officials refuse to back down having vowed to now go back to the drawing board to “reshape” their proposal with a view to creating a competition that can provide top clubs with more financial security.
By Festus Oppong Kwabena Asante