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"Football is for the fans": Chelsea, City abandon Super League as rebel game unravels

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20th April, 2021
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Chelsea and Manchester City are leading the exit from the breakaway European Super League, which is unravelling less than two days after it was announced.

Manchester City and Chelsea have dramatically abandoned plans to join a breakaway Super League on Tuesday, threatening to implode the project by a group of elite English, Spanish and Italian clubs less than two days after it was announced.

City was the first club to go public with its decision to leave the 12-team project, saying it “has formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League.”

Chelsea was preparing documents to tell the Super League it wants out too, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.

Three other English clubs – Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham – had signed up.

“Good news that Chelsea and City have seen sense, and I urge the rest to follow swiftly,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted. 

“The whole ESL move shows how out-of-touch these owners are. They have completely misjudged the strength of feeling from fans, players and the whole country. Football is for the fans.”

Liverpool was publicly urged to desert the Super League by its players who repeated a tweet first posted by captain Jordan Henderson.

“We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen,” Henderson tweeted. “This is our collective position.”

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Manchester United defender Luke Shaw also went against his club by tweeting his backing of the existing Champions League minutes before news broke that Chelsea would be the first club to quit the group of 12 rebels.

It was unclear if Manchester United, which is owned by the American Glazer family, was still clinging onto the Super League project. 

But United vice chairman Ed Woodward announced Tuesday night he was leaving at the end of 2021 in a statement not mentioning the Super League.

Kenny Dalglish, the legendary former Liverpool player and manager who is now a director of the club, seemed to also publicly oppose the plans.

“The last few days have been difficult for everyone who loves Liverpool Football Club and I really hope we do the right thing,” Dalglish tweeted.

City and Chelsea’s decision to leave the Super League came as fans protested outside the club’s Stamford Bridge stadium ahead of Tuesday’s game against Brighton and as English opposition to the scheme intensified.

The Premier League threatened to sanction the six rebel clubs and Prime Minister Boris Johnson considered introducing laws to stop them forming a new European competition he called a “cartel”.

Divisions within the Super League clubs also grew with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola saying the Super League would damage the integrity and values of sport. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has also expressed concerns about the actions of his club’s owners.

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The Premier League has already threatened the six Super League clubs with expulsion if they go it alone in Europe. The other 14 clubs met on Tuesday and “unanimously and vigorously” rejected the Super League plans.

“The Premier League is considering all actions available to prevent it from progressing, as well as holding those shareholders involved to account under its rules,” the English top division said in a statement.

The six clubs, driven by the American owners of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, have teamed up with the Spanish and Italian teams to rip up the structures of the European game.

Tottenham is also part of the breakaway that would see the teams guaranteed entry each year into the Super League rather than having to qualify through the previous season’s Premier League placing.

“It’s not a sport when success is already guaranteed. It’s not a sport when it doesn’t matter when you lose,” said Guardiola.

© AAP

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