Football’s European Super League is all but finished after the six English Premier League clubs involved in the breakaway competition turned their backs on the controversial tournament.
Amid furious backlash from fans and pundits around the globe, as well as criticism from players and coaches, Manchester City and Chelsea were the first clubs to back out of the ESL, before Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham followed suit on Wednesday morning (Australian time).
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin praised City’s move shortly after it was announced.
“I’m delighted to welcome City back to the European football family… It takes courage to admit a mistake but I never doubted they had the ability and common sense to make that decision. City are a real asset for the game,” he said in a statement.
The English FA also welcomed the news.
“English football has a proud history based on opportunity for all clubs and the game has been unanimous in its disapproval of a closed league,” it said in a statement.
While none of the remaining ‘founding clubs’ – Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus – have stated they will also be pulling out of the ESL, it’s nigh-on impossible to see the mooted competition continuing without the involvement of the English sides.
Manchester United and Liverpool, in particular, were reportedly amongst the strongest backers of the tournament, and Red Devils executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has announced he will step down at the end of 2021 after 16 years at the club in the wake of the ESL developments.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson posted a message on Twitter saying it was the players’ “collective position” that they were opposed to the tournament, and coach Jurgen Klopp had spoken out against the plans after the side’s 1-1 draw with Leeds on Tuesday morning.
— Jordan Henderson (@JHenderson) April 20, 2021
In a statement, Manchester United said: “Manchester United will not be participating in the European Super League.
“We have listened carefully to the reaction from our fans, the UK government and other key stakeholders.
“We remain committed to working with others across the football community to come up with sustainable solutions to the long-term challenges facing the game.”
Liverpool released a brief statement announcing the club’s withdrawal while Arsenal did likewise.
“As a result of listening to you and the wider football community over recent days we are withdrawing from the proposed Super League,” the Gunners said in an open letter to fans.
“We made a mistake, and we apologise for it.”
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said he regretted the “anxiety and upset” caused as he confirmed the club had “formally commenced procedures to withdraw from the group developing proposals for a European Super League (ESL).”