Former Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt says those involved in plans to create a breakaway European Super League demonstrated the "worst case of bullying".
United announced on Sunday they were one of 12 clubs set to establish a new midweek competition featuring 20 teams, which would include 15 founder members who would not be subject to relegation.
The rest of the Premier League's 'Big Six' had also signed up, along with La Liga's Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, and Serie A's Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan.
However, the news provoked a furious reaction and the plans collapsed on Tuesday night when Chelsea, Manchester City, United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham all decided to play no further part in discussions. Atletico Madrid and both Milan clubs pulled out on Wednesday.
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In the midst of the chaos, Ed Woodward confirmed he would be stepping down as United executive vice-chairman at the end of 2021, a decision that had already been agreed before the Super League crumbled.
Liverpool owner John W Henry personally apologised on Wednesday morning for his decision to sign up to the proposals and United co-chairman Joel Glazer followed suit in the afternoon, admitting the decision-makers at the club "got it wrong" in an open letter to supporters.
Speaking to Sky Sports News before Glazer broke his silence, Butt said an apology from those in charge at Old Trafford is "irrelevant".
"I don't think an apology is too great anyway if I'm honest," he said. "I think what happened should never have happened.
"What happened is the worst case of bullying in my opinion, from powerful people, so whether they apologise or not is irrelevant to me really."
'Owners have been taught a lesson'
The concept of a Super League sparked an angry reaction around the world from governing bodies, politicians and perhaps most importantly, football fans.
In particular, the supporters' trusts of the Premier League clubs involved voiced their anger and vowed to do everything possible to prevent the competition from going ahead.
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On whether it will take time for the owners to regain their trust, Butt said: "A hell of a long time and I don't see how it's possible. It's difficult to regain someone's trust after going behind people's backs for so long.
"It's going to be difficult, I don't know how they do it.
"I think that's how some of these businessmen work. They work in the shadows if you like and they do what they think is right, but I think the shocking thing is they can't have empathy for the fans who make this sport so great.
"Without the fans, the sport is nothing, and to not be on board with what the fans want, that's the alarming thing for me.
"So it's a lesson to people who come into the country and come into powerful football clubs and think they can do whatever they want because they are owners and they are very, very wealthy.
"Over the past few hours in this country it has proved not to be the case."
Butt: Time was right to leave Man Utd
Butt left his role as head of first-team development at United last month, with the club releasing a statement to say their former midfielder was ready to seek new challenges elsewhere.
Butt's departure came shortly after a restructuring at Old Trafford that saw John Murtough named the club's first football director and former player Darren Fletcher promoted to technical director.
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According to The Athletic, Butt felt he was not given enough notice of the impending changes at the club and would have put his name forward for the roles.
However, asked if ongoings behind the scenes led to him leaving, Butt said: "No, not at all. I was comfortable in my job. I was comfortable in my surroundings.
"Again, it was just a personal choice to leave the club because I felt like it was my time to go and explore other opportunities.
"Obviously, with what has gone on over the past few days, it looks like there was a reason I left but that wasn't the reason. My reason for leaving was purely to accept new challenges that will hopefully come soon.
"I love the club. Always have, always will."
Sky Sports News has contacted Manchester United for a response to Butt's comments.
Butt was speaking at an event in support of former Manchester City player Tony Faulkner, who has just completed a running challenge to raise awareness of positive mental health for Papyrus - the UK charity for the prevention of young suicide.