Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will begin withdrawing from the proposed European Super League, the clubs confirmed on Tuesday.
Chelsea is also expected to leave the proposed competition, sources confirm ESPN.
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The turnaround is a stunning U-turn for the English Premier League clubs following Sunday’s announcement that they were among the 12 greatest football teams in Europe planning to break out of the UEFA Champions League.
Man City were the first of the clubs to announce and make a brief statement: “Manchester City Football Club can confirm that it has formally established procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League.”
In their statement, Arsenal ‘apologized’ to their supporters, adding: ‘Our intention was never to cause this much suffering, but when the invitation to the Super League came, while we knew there were no guarantees, we didn’t want to stay behind. behind to make sure we protected Arsenal and its future. “
Liverpool said its involvement in the two-day-old project “has been halted,” while Manchester United said it withdrew from the deal. Tottenham also said they have would not participate.
After Manchester City announced their departure, UEFA Chairman Aleksander Ceferin said: “I am delighted to welcome [Manchester City] back to the European football family. They have shown great intelligence by listening to the many voices – especially their fans.
“It takes courage to admit a mistake, but I never doubted that they had the ability and common sense to make that decision. City is a real asset to the game and I am delighted to be with them to work together for a better future for the European. game. “
The Chelsea news was first reported by the BBC and confirmed by ESPN’s James Olley. The club has yet to make an official statement.
Those 12 clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus – had pushed for the ESL to provide more financial support to the football pyramid. with a planned € 10 billion in solidarity payments to non-participating clubs, to be spread over an initial period of 23 years.
The Super League organizers, led by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, had said they hoped to add three more founders before launching their match “as soon as possible”.
Perez, who would appear on the Spanish radio show “El Larguero” on Cadena SER Tuesday night, instead skipped the interview to attend meetings related to the proposed competition, according to that show’s host, Manu Carreno.
Before their goalless draw with Brighton on Tuesday, a group of Chelsea players took to chairman Bruce Buck to say they were against the proposed competition, sources told Olley.
Several hundred fans gathered outside Stamford Bridge hours before kick-off to express their opposition to the club’s plan to sign up for the new league.
Technical and performance director Petr Cech was seen on camera, begging supporters to let the team bus take to the field as fans blocked their access to the stadium.
The news then spread that the Blues were drafting documentation to reverse their decision to participate, sparking cheers and chants of “We saved football” from the fans who were about 300 meters from the main entrance. the stadium.
Earlier in the day, the 14 other Premier League clubs met to discuss the crisis, together with the Football Association.
The Premier League released a statement on Tuesday saying it “unanimously and forcefully rejected the plans” and considered taking action to hold the six clubs to account.
Meanwhile, in Spain, Barcelona’s entry into a new league would be conditional on members of the Liga club voting in favor of the proposal, ESPN Deportes and Spanish media said.
Catalan television station TV3 reported that the contract Barça president Joan Laporta signed with the other 11 founding clubs included a clause allowing the club to withdraw from the agreement if members disagreed.
The report added that Laporta met with Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman on Tuesday to explain the club’s position in the Super League and has agreed to speak with club captains Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto on Wednesday.
Barcelona was not immediately available to comment.
Unlike the Champions League competition, where teams must qualify through their national league, the founding Super League teams would guarantee themselves a place in the new league every year.
UEFA has warned it can impose sanctions on clubs and players participating in the breakaway league. News of the Super League has also sparked concern from public figures such as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and Pope Francis.
UEFA had voted on changes to the Champions League format on Monday, expanding it from 32 teams to 36 with the re-designed tournament, set to begin at the start of the 2024-25 season.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino told the 12 breakaway European Super League clubs on Tuesday that they could not be “half in, half out” of the established football system and face the reality of their decision.
A number of top players under contracts with those six Premier League clubs had expressed concerns about UEFA’s threat to ban them from playing for their country in international tournaments, including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Reuters contributed to this report.