Kaveh Solhekol, The Insider: How the European Super League was doomed to fail

Sky Sports News' Kaveh Solhekol: "The Premier League's six clubs were shocked and taken aback by the universal global negative reaction... but some breakaway owners still think the European Super League is a good idea badly executed"

Details of how the proposed European Super League collapsed from Kaveh Solhekol and Bryan Swanson

Kaveh Solhekol analyses the state of play after all six Premier League clubs announced their withdrawal from the hugely controversial European Super League on a dramatic night...

There was a frantic race to be first to quit the European Super League on Tuesday.

Manchester City were the first club to have serious doubts quickly followed by Chelsea. There was a feeling that there was a small reputational benefit to be gained from being first to quit.

Chelsea were first club to let it be known that they were leaving just before 7pm. At the same time Man City were telling the ESL they were withdrawing and that was confirmed at 7.20pm. By then, the whole project was doomed.

Brighton players wore anti-European Super League T-shirts on Tuesday
Image: Brighton players wore anti-European Super League T-shirts on Tuesday

Tuesday's timeline - how the Super League collapsed

  • 8:30am - Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol tells Good Morning Sports Fans that he understands the Super League could collapse
  • 10am - FIFA president Gianni Infantino reiterates the governing body's 'strong disapproval' of the plans
  • 10:45am - SSN understands cracks begin to emerge among the Premier League sides committed to the Super League
  • 12pm - Senior figure at one of the breakaway Premier League clubs insists they 'will not back down'
  • 12:30pm - Prime Minister Boris Johnson says 'no action is off the table' in stopping the Super League
  • 1:30pm - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola criticises the Super League, saying 'it is not sport'
  • 2:15pm - 14 Premier League clubs 'vigorously reject' Super League plans
  • 5:30pm - Chelsea fans begin protesting outside Stamford Bridge
  • 6:30pm - Chelsea's performance and technical advisor, Petr Cech, urges fans to let team into stadium; kick-off against Brighton delayed
  • 7pm - News breaks that Chelsea are preparing to withdraw from the Super League
  • 7:30pm - Manchester City follow Chelsea in withdrawing from Super League
  • 8pm - Manchester United executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, steps down
  • 9pm - Liverpool players come out against the Super League on social media
  • 11pm - Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham withdraw from the Super League
  • 1am (Wed) - Chelsea officially confirm they are also withdrawing from the Super League
  • 1am (Wed) - Super League says it will 'reconsider' proposals

The other clubs knew it was all over when Chelsea and City quit and during a series of phone calls it was agreed that Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham would announce they were leaving at 11pm.

This morning there is a lot of anger and recrimination inside the breakaway clubs and the majority of it is directed at the small group of owners and chief executives who tried to push this through. There are a lot of unhappy managers and a lot of unhappy players.

A lot of the anger is being directed at a small group of owners and chief executives who were behind this breakaway, rebel, pirate league. I've been told that it will be very difficult for some of the people who were behind this to go into meetings with the other 14 Premier League clubs because the trust has gone. Apologies and statements aren't going to be enough.

European Super League reaction
A selection of scarves pictured in London of the English soccer Premier League teams Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, who announced in a joint statement they are to join a new European Super League. Picture date: Monday April 19, 2021. 3:01
Clubs being kicked out of domestic competitions was a legally viable threat, according to Dr Katarina Pijetlovic, an expert in sports law at Manchester Metropolitan University

How will the top people at some of these breakaway clubs be able to go into a room face-to-face and deal with the other 14 clubs? As far as they are concerned, they would like some of these people removed from those clubs and fresh faces be brought in, who are not tainted by what has happened in the last three days.

We keep being told that people should draw a line under this, that it's something we should forget about and forgive - I don't think that's the case at all, even inside these breakaway clubs. If I was one of the senior executives at a breakaway club, I would be very worried about my future.

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But they still think that the idea behind it - to have a closed league of the so-called big clubs playing each other every midweek instead of being in the Champions League is a good idea. They feel that it was badly executed, that their communications were poor and that their PR strategy was non-existent.

Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher react to Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City pulling out of the proposed Super League

I'm also being told that one senior executive at a breakaway club feels he was totally sidelined by his owner. The executive was appalled when he saw what his owner had signed up to and spent Tuesday frantically trying to obtain information and clarification from the owner.

If he had known, he'd have tried to his best to try and stop it. Once he realised what was actually happening and read some of the details, he spent a lot of time frantically trying to get in touch with his owner.

The six clubs were shocked and taken aback by the universal global negative reaction. They were expecting a backlash but nothing on the scale which materialised.

The clubs who weren't the ringleaders had been told that there would be a professional and effective communications strategy but the deafening silence made them feel like they had been hung out to dry.

Manchester United v Aston Villa - Premier League - Old Trafford
Match balls on the pitch before the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Image: Manchester United supporters have voiced their disapproval of the proposals

When Sky Sports News reported on Tuesday morning that some of the clubs were starting to have doubts, the ESL organised for journalists to be briefed that the six English clubs were still unified in their desire to break away.

One senior executive at a breakaway club says: "It has been two days of complete madness and for what? It has destroyed our reputation".

Another executive was scathing about the owner of his club: He told me, "he came to watch a game and I was sitting next to him in the directors' box. He didn't know what colour shirt we were playing in. He had to ask me which team we were".

The vast majority of the players, managers, executives and staff at the six breakaway clubs were opposed to the ESL and had been kept totally in the dark about it.

Stan Kroenke, Joel Glazer and John W. Henry 2:57
Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol believes the owners of the six Premier League clubs that have withdrawn from the proposed Super League 'do not understand English football'

A lot of people in this country criticise UEFA but what I would say is they represent 55 European countries - it doesn't just represent the interest of English football and all the big Premier League clubs. If you're a football supporter in Slovenia, why shouldn't the Slovenian champions be in the Champions League?

Ajax - who've won it four times - why should they not be in the Champions League? So I would ask people to stop criticising UEFA so much and bear in mind that they are representing not just England but 54 other countries. Each country has different concerns and priorities.

UEFA do get a lot of things wrong but also they've got a lot of things right. These people need to remember what the game is about.

The owners of some of these breakaway clubs have had a real rude awakening. They have just discovered that they are not as powerful as they thought they were. What's worse for them is, one, the crazy scheme is not working, it's dead, it's finished.

preview image 0:44
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says there will be an investigation into the governance of football

Secondly, the Government is now involved. It is looking into football and there are going to be big changes. There's going to be legislation and there could well be an independent regulator to make sure this doesn't happen ever again.

All these dreams they had of setting up a closed league and making billions of pounds selling the TV rights so that people in the Far East and all over the world can watch their games... if the Government gets involved, there's a good chance that is never going to happen.

Legislation will be coming soon, because as far as the Government is concerned, football cannot be run by people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Certainly not the value of English football, our culture and our history.

Podcast Special: Fans 1-0 Not-so-Super League

High-powered, heavily-funded and years in the making, it lasted barely two days.

In a podcast special, Jasper Taylor is joined by Gerard Brand and Ron Walker to discuss the rapid break-up of the breakaway European Super League.

The panel discuss why football is more than just a business or entertainment sport, how this was a fan victory we should celebrate, and what the future holds for football.

We also hear from Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Kaveh Solhekol and Bryan Swanson on another monumental 48 hours.

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