Several English clubs have already withdrawn from the controversial European Super League, less than 48 hours after its launch.
Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, and Manchester City have all announced their withdrawal in public statements, with some citing input from fans and other stakeholders as a reason.
The withdrawal announcements came after TalkSPORT first announced on Tuesday that the 12 founders of the breakaway Super League were meeting to discuss the competition’s future. The Super League has not responded to CNN’s request for comment.
Six English clubs — Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur — would have formed the breakaway Super League, along with three Italian clubs — AC Milan, Inter Milan, and Juventus — and three Spanish clubs — Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, and Real Madrid.
“I think this project has died today … and it is on the way to becoming a complete botch,” former Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon told CNN’s Richard Quest.
“I think it deserves it because it was a project destined to kill football. I think mainly at this time that we are living where many clubs are struggling to survive due to the economic problems from the pandemic, what football needs is unity, solidarity.”
Premier League of England Manchester City was one of the first to announce its departure from the exclusive competition, announcing earlier on Tuesday that it had started the process of withdrawing from it. “Manchester City Football Club can confirm that it has formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League,” said the 2019 Premier League champion.
Manchester City’s return to “the European football family” was welcomed by UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin.
“They have shown great intelligence in listening to the many voices — most notably their fans — that have spelt out the vital benefits that the current system has for the whole of European football; from the world-beating Champions League final right down to a young player’s first coaching session at a grassroots club,” said Ceferin in a statement.
Arsenal apologised for its Super League decision in a later round of defections on Tuesday.
“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,” the club said in a statement.
A Manchester United spokesperson echoed the sentiment, citing fan and government responses as factors in the club’s decision to withdraw.
“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,” the spokesperson said. “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.”
Meanwhile, according to the Premier League management, Manchester United Executive Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward will leave the club at the end of 2021. He started with United in 2005 and rose through the ranks to become executive vice-chairman in 2012.
A Liverpool statement said it could “confirm that our involvement in proposed plans to form a European Super League has been discontinued.”
“In recent days, the club has received representations from various key stakeholders, both internally and externally, and we would like to thank them for their valuable contributions,” Liverpool said.
Tottenham Hotspur has also “formally begun procedures to withdraw from the party creating plans for a European Super League (ESL),” according to the club.
Meanwhile, a source close to Chelsea, another of the Super League’s 12 founding members, told CNN Sport that the club is planning to request its exclusion from the competition.
Chelsea’s leadership has spent the last two days addressing the situation with its partners, community, and fans, according to the source, and has concluded that they cannot break away and enter the Super League unless the fans are involved in the project.
“It’s never been about the money,” the source said, adding that Chelsea’s desire to enter the Super League stemmed from a desire to develop the game, which is a priority for club owner Roman Abramovich.