Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have hit out at "intolerable" pressure and threats to abandon the European Super League project, and vowed to "persevere" with the idea despite its considerable rejection.
The three lingering clubs of the original 12 issued a joint statement on Saturday defending their basis for the ESL's creation and expressed "regret" at seeing the other nine - including the Premier League's so-called 'Big Six' - recommit to UEFA on Friday.
Real, Barca and Juve are set to face "appropriate action" by UEFA for their role in the fiasco, which was met with vehement condemnation from throughout the football community, but the trio of clubs have warned UEFA to back off and hope they will be open in future to discussing solutions to the "systemic crisis in the football sector".
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We are looking at the prospect of Real Madrid not playing in the Champions League next season. Juventus will not be playing in it. Barcelona will not be playing in it. Unless they can sit down and come up with a compromise with UEFA.
Their statement read: "The founding clubs have suffered, and continue to suffer, unacceptable third-party pressures, threats, and offenses to abandon the project and therefore desist from their right and duty to provide solutions to the football ecosystem via concrete proposals and constructive dialogue.
"This is intolerable under the rule of law and tribunals have already ruled in favour of the Super League proposal, ordering FIFA and UEFA to, either directly or through their affiliated bodies, refrain from taking any action which may hinder this initiative in any way while court proceedings are pending.
Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus still refusing to give up on Super League. Joint statement says they want to talk to UEFA and FIFA about way forward. European ban likely unless they fall into line.— Kaveh Solhekol (@SkyKaveh) May 8, 2021
"The Super League project was designed jointly by its 12 founding clubs with the aim of providing solutions to the current unsustainable situation in the football industry. The 12 founding clubs shared the same concerns as other stakeholders in European football do, particularly under the current socio-economic context, that structural reforms are indispensable to ensure our sport stays appealing and survives in the long-term.
"(The Super League project was designed jointly by its 12 founding clubs also) with the utmost respect for the current football structures and ecosystem. The founding clubs expressly agreed that the Super League would only take place if such a competition was recognised by UEFA and/or FIFA or if, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, it was deemed to be a competition duly compatible for all purposes with the continuity of the founding clubs in their respective domestic competitions. However, despite being aware of the above terms, UEFA and FIFA have so far refused to establish any adequate channel of communication.
UEFA has reserved all rights to take whatever action it deems appropriate against those clubs that have so far refused to renounce the so-called 'Super League'.
"(The Super League project was designed jointly by its 12 founding clubs also) to bring financial stability to the entire European football family, currently under the effects of a deep crisis that threatens the survival of many clubs. Testament of it, the announced commitment to establish annual solidarity payments for guaranteed annual amounts that materially multiply those distributed by UEFA, and the obligation to reinforce financial sustainability rules, through the creation of a clear, transparent and effective control system verified by experts.
"The 12 founding clubs also acknowledged that the Super League was a unique opportunity to offer fans around the world the best possible show and to reinforce global interest in the sport, which is not a 'given' and is challenged by new generational trends. Moreover, one of its main objectives was to promote women's football on a global level, a tremendous, but currently underestimated, opportunity for the sector.
"We are fully aware of the diversity of reactions to the Super League initiative and, consequently, of the need to reflect on the reasons for some of them. We are ready to reconsider the proposed approach, as necessary. However, we would be highly irresponsible if, being aware of the needs and systemic crisis in the football sector, which led us to announce the Super League, we abandoned such mission to provide effective and sustainable answers to the existential questions that threaten the football industry.
"We regret to see that our friends and founding partners of the Super League project have now found themselves in such inconsistent and contradictory position when signing a number of commitments to UEFA yesterday. However, given that the material issues that led the 12 founding clubs to announce the Super League weeks ago have not gone away, we reiterate that, to honour our history, to comply with our obligations towards our stakeholders and fans, for the good of football and for the financial sustainability of the sector, we have the duty to act in a responsible manner and persevere in the pursuit of adequate solutions, despite the unacceptable and ongoing pressures and threats received from UEFA.
"Mostly, we reiterate to FIFA, UEFA and all football stakeholders, as we have done on several occasions since the announcement of the Super League, our commitment and firm will to discuss, with respect and without intolerable pressure and in accordance with the rule of law, the most appropriate solutions for the sustainability of the whole football family."
The nine clubs who pulled out of the European Super League are back in the UEFA fold and have agreed to "take all steps within their power" to end their involvement in the breakaway league, which was abandoned within 72 hours of its announcement amid considerable fan protests, Government pressure, and player and manager rejection.
What punishment do the nine Super League rebels face?
In announcing their recommitment to UEFA on Friday, the nine clubs will make a combined goodwill contribution of just over £13m to benefit children's and grassroots football across Europe. They will also have five per cent of UEFA competition revenues withheld for one season and this money will be redistributed.
They also face fines of almost £87m each if they seek to join an unauthorised competition in the future, and a fine of half that amount if they breach any other terms of the declaration. They will also rejoin the influential lobbying group the European Club Association.
A spokesperson for Manchester United confirmed the Glazer family would personally cover their club's share of the goodwill money requested and the withheld funds. It is expected that the amount the Glazers would be liable for is between five and 10 million euros.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: "I said at the UEFA Congress two weeks ago that it takes a strong organisation to admit making a mistake especially in these days of trial by social media. These clubs have done just that.
"In accepting their commitments and willingness to repair the disruption they caused, UEFA wants to put this chapter behind it and move forward in a positive spirit. The measures announced are significant, but none of the financial penalties will be retained by UEFA. They will all be reinvested into youth and grassroots football in local communities across Europe, including the UK.
"These clubs recognised their mistakes quickly and have taken action to demonstrate their contrition and future commitment to European football. The same cannot be said for the clubs that remain involved in the so-called 'Super League' and UEFA will deal with those clubs subsequently."
But what about Real, Barca and Juve?
For Real, Barca and Juve the tone was strikingly different in UEFA's statement on Friday, which said: "UEFA has reserved all rights to take whatever action it deems appropriate against those clubs that have so far refused to renounce the so-called 'Super League. The matter will promptly be referred to the competent UEFA disciplinary bodies."
Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol believes the three clubs could face bans from next season's Champions League.
"Three clubs are refusing to be reintegrated," he said. "They are three of the biggest clubs in Europe - Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus. As things stand, UEFA are saying these three clubs may well be banned from European competitions.
"We are looking at the prospect of Real Madrid not playing in the Champions League next season. Juventus will not be playing in it. Barcelona will not be playing in it. Unless they can sit down and come up with a compromise with UEFA. But as things stand - as ridiculous as it sounds - these three clubs are refusing to give up on the Super League.
"They still think somehow they can make it happen. They are refusing to accept these terms, conditions and punishments that UEFA have given to the other clubs."