Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham have followed Chelsea and Manchester City in pulling out from the proposed Super League.
City were the first Premier League side to publicly confirm they were pulling out of the breakaway competition on Tuesday evening, despite news initially emerging from Chelsea earlier in the day they had made a U-turn.
The Premier League leaders said in a statement on Tuesday evening: “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.”
Late on Tuesday evening, the remaining four of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ made the announcement they were backing out of plans to form a breakaway European Super League.
“We made a mistake, and we apologise for it,” said Arsenal. “We know it will take time to restore your faith in what we are trying to achieve here at Arsenal but let us be clear that the decision to be part of the Super League was driven by our desire to protect Arsenal, the club you love, and to support the game you love through greater solidarity and financial stability.”
In their statement, Manchester United said: “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 stated: “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.”
And Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy told the club’s website: “We regret the anxiety and upset caused by the ESL proposal. We felt it was important that our club participated in the development of a possible new structure that sought to better ensure financial fair play and financial sustainability whilst delivering significantly increased support for the wider football pyramid.”
Liverpool Football Club can confirm that our involvement in proposed plans to form a European Super League has been discontinued.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 20, 2021
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.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) April 20, 2021
Chelsea, whose fans protested against the planned breakaway league outside Stamford Bridge ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League match against Brighton, are understood to have changed their mind because of the overwhelming negative worldwide reaction.
The club was the last of the Premier League members to officially confirm its withdrawal, releasing a statement in the early hours of Wednesday morning, saying: “We have now had time to consider the matter fully and have decided that our continued participation in these plans would not be in the best interests of the club, our supporters or the wider football community.”
According to Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol, the “totally negative reaction to ESL plans was in danger of totally overshadowing all the good work the club does in the community.
“Chelsea made a last-minute decision last week to join the ESL. They now regret the decision and accept it was a mistake. They felt they had to ‘jump on the train because it was leaving the station’. Turned out it was a train to nowhere.”
The competition’s announcement on Sunday, made by 12 founding clubs – including Manchester United, City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham from the Premier League – was met with widespread criticism.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to “thwart” the competition, likening it to a “cartel”, while the other 14 Premier League clubs rejected the proposal and UEFA threatened potential sanctions on the rebel group.
Super League to “reconsider” project
The remaining members of the proposed European Super League said they would “reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project” following the withdrawal of all six English teams.
Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus released a collective statement in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
“The European Super League is convinced that the current status quo of European football needs to change,” the statement said. “We are proposing a new European competition because the existing system does not work.
“Our proposal is aimed at allowing the sport to evolve while generating resources and stability for the full football pyramid, including helping to overcome the financial difficulties experienced by the entire football community as a result of the pandemic. It would also provide materially enhanced solidarity payments to all football stakeholders.
“Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due to the pressure put on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations as was demonstrated today by a court decision to protect the Super League from third party actions.
“Given the current circumstances, we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project, always having in mind our goals of offering fans the best experience possibly while enhancing solidarity payments for the entire football community.”
FA: This has unified us all
The Football Association welcomed the news some clubs had decided to withdraw their support from the new competition.
An FA statement read: “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 was a proposition that, by design, could have divided our game; but instead, it has unified us all.
“We would like to thanks the fans in particular for their influential and unequivocal voice during this time, holding true the guiding principles of football. It is a powerful reminder that the game is, and always will be, for fans.
“We would also like to thank the Primer Minister, Secretary of State and Sports Minister for their unwavering and critical support against these plans.”
Prime Minister commends Chelsea and City for pulling out
Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson criticised the Super League plans, likening it “as a kind of cartel”.
Following the news of Chelsea and City’s exit from the proposals, Johnson tweeted: “The decision by Chelsea and Manchester City is – if confirmed – absolutely the right one and I commend them for it.
“I hope the other clubs involved in the European Super League will follow their lead.”
The decision by Chelsea and Manchester City is – if confirmed – absolutely the right one and I commend them for it.
I hope the other clubs involved in the European Super League will follow their lead.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 20, 2021
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden also tweeted: “Good news that Chelsea and City have seen sense, and I urge the rest to follow swiftly.
“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.
“Our fan-led review will still happen and I remain convinced of the need for reform. We must make sure this never happens again.”
Ceferin ‘delighted’ by City’s withdrawal
Ahead of the other Premier League clubs following suit, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin welcomed the withdrawal of Manchester City from the breakaway closed league project.
He said: “I am delighted to welcome City back to the European football family.
“They have shown great intelligence in listening to the many voices – most notably their fans – that have spelled 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.
“As I said at the UEFA Congress, it takes courage to admit a mistake but I have never doubted that they had the ability and common sense to make that decision.
“City are a real asset for the game and I am delighted to be working with them for a better future for the European game.”