In a colossal turn of events, the European Super League has started to unravel just days after it was announced, with all six English Premier League teams withdrawing after pressure from fans and government.
News of a new European Super League (ESL) was publicly revealed on Sunday night but it appears to be over before it started. Unexpected backlash from supporters and the government has spurred the league’s six biggest English clubs to abandon the league.
This has left the new association up the creek without a paddle less than 48 hours after it was launched.
Chelsea was the first to go, followed by Manchester City, then by 11pm Tuesday the final four – Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham – all made their adieus.
The volte face has left the club owners’ reputations in tatters, and some fans are calling for blood. In the case of Manchester United for example, Executive Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward, who was a key architect of the new league, resigned his post after confidence in him became shaky.
Most of the clubs have tried to underplay their decision to backout, but Arsenal owned their mistake, saying fan response was a key contributor and they needed “time for further reflection and deep thought.”
In a statement, they went on to say, “It was never our intention to cause such distress, however when the invitation to join the Super League came, while knowing there were no guarantees, we did not want to be left behind to ensure we protected Arsenal and its future. 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.”
Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy also issued an apology, saying, “We regret the anxiety and upset caused by the ESL proposal.”
The English aren’t the only ones having second thoughts. It’s reported that Italian clubs Milan and Internazionale were also considering abandoning the leaky ship. This leaves the Spanish teams, Atletico, Madrid and Barcelona, as well as Juventus flapping in the wind.
Despite the major setback, the Super League is vowing to move forward with their plans, albeit with a pause to “reshape the project.”
“Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due to the pressure on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations,” reads a statement from the ESL. “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 possible while enhancing solidarity payments for the entire football community.”
As the clubs, one-by-one, made public their intentions to exit the ESL, UEFA’s President, Aleksander Ceferin breathed a sigh of relief. He released a statement saying, “It is admirable to admit a mistake and these clubs made a big mistake. But they are back in the fold now and I know they have a lot to offer not just to our competitions but to the whole of the European game. The important thing now is that we move on, rebuild the unity that the game enjoyed before this and move forward together.”
The fat lady hasn’t exactly sung, but without a serious change in perspective, it looks as if the ESL is DOA.