Chelsea and Manchester City withdrew from Super League on Tuesday evening, with Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham following shortly afterwards; Super League says it will "reconsider" proposals; UEFA president says English clubs are "back in the fold"
Wednesday 21 April 2021 11:23, UK
The European Super League appears to have collapsed after all six of the Premier League sides that agreed to join reversed their decision on Tuesday night.
News broke ahead of Chelsea's Premier League fixture at home to Brighton that the club were preparing to withdraw from the new competition. Blues fans had gathered outside Stamford Bridge to protest against the Super League.
Shortly afterwards, Manchester City became the first Premier League side to publicly confirm they were pulling out of the breakaway competition, with a statement reading: "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."
Later on Tuesday evening, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham announced they were also backing out of the plans.
The Super League responded in the early hours of Wednesday morning, saying it would "reconsider" its plans, adding that the English clubs had been forced to withdraw due to the "pressure put on them".
"The European Super League is convinced that the current status quo of European football needs to change," it said.
"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.
"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 experiences possible, while enhancing solidarity payments for the entire football community."
In a statement to their supporters confirming their withdrawal, Arsenal said: "We made a mistake, and we apologise for it.
"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."
It was also announced on Tuesday evening that Ed Woodward, United's executive vice-chairman, would stand down at the end of the year. He was heavily criticised by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin for his role in the formation of the Super League on Monday.
In confirming their withdrawal from the plans, 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."
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy told his 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."
Chelsea, who are understood to have backtracked on the Super League plans because of the overwhelming negative worldwide reaction, were the final Premier League side to officially confirm their withdrawal.
A statement in the early hours of Wednesday morning said: "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."
The Blues were also believed to feel that reaction to the Super League plans was in danger of overshadowing the work they carry out in the community.
The competition's announcement on Sunday, made by 12 founding clubs - the Premier League's 'big six', plus Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan - was met with widespread condemnation.
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.
The Football Association welcomed the news of the English clubs' withdrawal from the Super League, saying: "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 Prime Minister, Secretary of State and Sports Minister for their unwavering and critical support against these plans."
On Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he "welcomed" the Premier League sides' decision, adding: "This is the right result for football fans, clubs, and communities across the country. We must continue to protect our cherished national game."
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden warned the decision by the six breakaway Premier League clubs to quit the Super League is not the end of the matter, and that a wider look at the governance of the sport is still needed.
"It's very important that we don't see this as the end of the process," Dowden told Sky News on Wednesday. "What this is highlighting, more than ever, is the need to look at the wider governance of football."
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin had reacted with fury to the Super League proposals, and branded some of the club executives behind the plans as "snakes and liars".
However, after urging the Premier League sides to reconsider their "mistake" earlier on Tuesday, Ceferin welcomed their decision to withdraw from the competition.
He said: "I said yesterday that 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."