soccer

Super League breakaway in tatters after 6 English clubs quit

30 Comments
By Simon Evans

European soccer's breakaway Super League project lay in tatters on Tuesday after the six English Premier League clubs involved in the project quit 48 hours after agreeing to join Italian and Spanish teams in the new elite competition.

After a storm of protests from fans, players, managers and governments, alongside threats of bans and sanctions from the game's European and world governing bodies UEFA and FIFA, the English clubs bowed to pressure and threw in the towel.

Manchester City were the first to back out of the venture and then Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur announced they were following suit.

Chelsea, whose fans protested outside their stadium before a match on Tuesday holding banners saying 'Fans not customers', are expected to complete the departure of the 'Big Six' when they submit withdrawal papers to the Super League company.

The Super League did not respond to a request for comment and the league's chairman, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, cancelled a planned radio interview.

The league, which was announced on Sunday with 12 founding members, is now left with three Italian clubs -- AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan -- plus Perez's Real Madrid along with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid from Spain.

UEFA, whose elite Champions League competition was at risk from the proposed new league, threatened to ban the clubs and players who joined the Super League but its president Aleksander Ceferin had earlier urged the English clubs to think again.

“I said yesterday that it is admirable to admit a mistake and these clubs made a big mistake," he said after the English clubs announced their decisions to leave.

“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," he said.

Adding to the drama, Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward fell on his sword, announcing his resignation shortly before his club gave up on a project he had been influential in bringing about.

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The Super League had argued that it would increase revenues to the top clubs and allow them to distribute more money to the rest of the game.

U.S. investment bank JP Morgan JPM.N was brought in to finance the new league, providing a 3.5 billion euro ($4.21 billion) grant to the founding clubs to spend on infrastructure and recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the sport’s governing bodies, other teams and fan organizations said the Super League would boost the power and wealth of the elite clubs and the partially closed structure of the league goes against European football's long-standing model.

Unlike Europe’s current top-level Champions League competition, where teams have to qualify through their domestic league, the founding Super League teams would have guaranteed themselves a place in the new competition every year.

Most of the statements from the English club's were short but Arsenal apologized to their fans for being involved.

"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 apologize for it," the London club said in an open letter https://www.arsenal.com/news/open-letter-our-fans to fans.

The magnitude of the split in the game and the strength of feeling it generated led political leaders across Europe to speak out, and, in some cases, to threaten intervention.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government would consider passing legislation to stop the breakaway, likening the plans to creating a cartel.

The Premier League said it "unanimously and vigorously" rejected the plans. After a meeting with the 14 clubs not involved, it said it was considering "all actions available" to stop the new competition.

"We have listened carefully to the reaction from our fans, the UK government and other key stakeholders," Manchester United said in a statement.

"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."

© Thomson Reuters 2021

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

30 Comments
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All six English clubs have now pulled out. Shows just how little the owners of these clubs know about football, it’s fans, heritage and it’s cultural importance. Shame on them.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

All six English clubs have now pulled out. 

Great news but still punish them.

I’d relegate all six. Hit them in the pocket properly.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

I called it yesterday! But they are so tainted.When the fans come back it's gonna be spicy hearing them voice their displeasure.I feel for the players.The team owners are foreigners who just wanted more money so have a go at them,not the players.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

While I'm glad that City's owners have withdrawn the club from this horrorshow, it begs the question of why they didn't understand what the reaction from supporters, players, media and the British government would be.

They surely can't be as clueless as the Indian chicken farmers who bought Blackburn Rovers few years ago, and were stunned to hear the word relegation at the first board meeting they attended. "What is this relegation?" the new chairman asked the board member who broached the subject.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson considered introducing laws to stop them forming a new European competition he called a “cartel."

Remarkable how quickly Johnson galvanised himself when an opportunity for easy points-scoring with the masses presented itself. Let's see if he moves so fast when the investigation into the Tories' awarding of billion pound Covid contracts to their chums starts.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Fantastic news.

No one in the game wanted it except the greedy owners of the clubs.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The foreign ownership has little understanding of the culture and the game and what it means to the fans. Their interest is only for investment.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

@jimizu

agree - at the bare minimum, dock them points

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Jimizo

All six English clubs have now pulled out. 

Great news but still punish them.

> I’d relegate all six. Hit them in the pocket properly.

Are you then hoping your team Everton would move up the league?

What you suggest would hurt the players and fans who didn't support the formation nor part of any consultations.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

You really gotta wonder, what did the idiots upstairs of each of these club think when they announced this inane project? That football fans around the world would all applaud and rejoice?? Goes to show how completely detached from reality they are. Glad to see theuniversal response was as swift as it was violent (in its rejection) and this silliness has now ended.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

"It has never been about the money," the source told CNN Sport, who added that Chelsea's intention in joining the Super League was based on a desire to improve the game, a priority for club owner Roman Abramovich.

the fans & joe public aren’t so naive as to believe this tripe - It was only about the money

2 ( +4 / -2 )

This is what you get when you have Americans and Arabs in charge of ( European ) football clubs / the best in the world. Luckily, this thing was over before it even started.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Are you then hoping your team Everton would move up the league?

What you suggest would hurt the players and fans who didn't support the formation nor part of any consultations.

I understand that but these owners need to be firmly slapped into line. Money is the only thing they care about. Apparently, Man U, Liverpool and Arsenal were the ringleaders of this from England. They should definitely be sent down a division.

The fans of these clubs have been happy to reap the rewards from these vulture owners. You hear the odd moan about football being taken away from the working people, but that quickly gives way to excitement when you read about a £80,000,000 player coming in.

You go down with them.

English football is in need of a reset. Now’s the time to do it.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The Liverpool owners will be walking alone in the future.

The plan of the super league started at a dinner meeting in New York in 2017 with the owners of the top 6 English clubs.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

High player value and high wages have been a major problem for some years. A wage cap would only work if all the European countries agree. Otherwise, players will go elsewhere.

Summary of the top paid players in EPL for 2020:

David De Gea – Manchester United; £19,500,000 per season

Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City; £18,200,000 per season

Mesut Ozil – Arsenal; £18,200,000 per season

Raheem Sterling – Manchester City; £15,600,000 per season

Paul Pogba – Manchester United; £15,080,000 per season

Anthony Martial – Manchester United; £13,000,000 per season

Sergio Aguero – Manchester City; £11,967,000 per season

Mohamed Salah – Liverpool; £10,400,000 per season

Marcus Rashford – Manchester United; £10,400,00 per season

 Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur; £10,400,000 per season

 Tanguy Ndombele – Tottenham Hotspur; £10,400,000 per season

 Alexandre Lacazette – Arsenal; £9,467,273 per season

And

Lionel Messi astonishingly earning more than double the amount of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The incredible weekly wage of £2.1 million for the 33-year-old Argentine. That works out at an eye-watering £108.2 million per year.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Apparently this was mainly the doing of the English clubs with American owners, Man U, Liverpool, and Arsenal. Spurs were also really up for it because they have just built a mega stadium and are the most indebted club in Europe. Given that Europe includes Real, Barcelona, and Monaco, that is saying something. Man City were last in and first out, and come out of this with relative credit. Like Chelsea before them, their long-running sin has been buying the league, which is a shame but has always happened. Alex Ferguson's first title at Man U was with a super expensive team and even Cloughie's Forest (complete legends) were assembled with money, including the first million pound player Trevor Francis.

I don't think anyone has ever had any doubts about the Americans at Man U or Arsenal, or indeed Liverpool's previous American owners, but this has done major self-inflicted damage to Fenway, the current owners, who were spun as "the good Americans" and supposedly fine stewards of the club.

Now this has completely backfired, one quick and convenient way the Premier League can punish the six is to allow the Saudi takeover of Newcastle United, which was blocked last year. This was claimed to be for various reasons, some of them PR friendly ones about human rights (as if!), but the main driver was opposition from Liverpool and Spurs. As we have seen here, they are terrified of actual competition and simply want to lock in their precious revenue as a divine right. The UK sells a large amount of weapons to Saudi Arabia to kill people in Yemen, so any energy spent focusing on ownership of a football club as a moral battleground is wasted.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

it’s good news, the Premier League Six made the right decision eventually, no need for punishment. However flagging draconian sanctions for any club that tries to go down this self-destructive path in the future would be a damn good idea, and not just in England.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@zichi

agree with the idea of a salary cap.

It works in many sporting competitions around the world - evening the playing field as well.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

ESL, the concept is unlikely to simply fade away.

zichi, posted the player revenue, add in branding and image rights.

However I am a business women.

These footy stars come from mostly working class back grounds.

I have no problem with them receiving serious amounts of money for plying there trade.

Hedge fund mangers lie low, incognito.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is a real loss to the global soccer market (including USA, Asia, Africa, etc). It's a shame they'll be denied what would've been a magnificent spectacle to pacify a few UK based so called fans!

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

The ticket prices for an EPL game are the highest in Europe. Germany the cheapest with fan-owned clubs. In the EPL it's £50 In the Bundesliga, the average price for the cheapest tickets is just over £10.

"When Uli Hoeness, the president of Bayern Munich, was asked why the club didn't have higher ticket prices, like they do in England, he said: "We do not think the fans are like cows to be milked. Football has got to be for everybody. That's the biggest difference between us and England."

In the Premier League, assorted billionaires own the top clubs.

In Germany, there is the "50 + 1" rule, whereby the association or club has to have a controlling stake, commercial interests can't gain control, In Bayern Munich, for example, Audi and Adidas each own 9% but the rest is controlled by the members via the club.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Soccer is only about money nowadays.

It is rare when players show their guts (=give all you have) while earning 100 times your salary per match.

I am a fan of sports, not players running after money. Clubs or players, for vast majority same struggle. That Superleague is the tip of the iceberg only.

I remember Portuguese C. Ronaldo as an exceptional player because while injured he still through pain give all his energy shouting relentlessly to his fellow country players. That is sport.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This is a real loss to the global soccer market (including USA, Asia, Africa, etc). It's a shame they'll be denied what would've been a magnificent spectacle to pacify a few UK based so called fans!

Your ignorance of English football is impressive.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

There are tens of millions of football fans.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

JimizoToday  07:35 am JST

All six English clubs have now pulled out. 

Great news but still punish them.

I’d relegate all six. Hit them in the pocket properly.

I think that would hit the whole league in the pocket as the TV and sponsorship deals dry up. If anything the big clubs would emerge stronger in the long run.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Game of Football is a beautiful sport and not a Rat Race. Long live the Game.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

John Henry, owner of Liverpool, released a half arsed apology video this morning which oozes fake contrition and sincerity. Referring to the club as “LFC” throughout the video just shows he still doesn’t get it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

fantastic. i am ashamed my club took part in this shameful exercise, but glad they got the guts to get out. apologies needed though, especially to the fans of all other clubs.

the americans, or at least american influence, has a lot to answer for.

We will never accept american style run sports competitions. ever.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

the Premier League Six made the right decision eventually, no need for punishment

They effectively tried to lock teams that will finish above them out of the Champions League. It would render lots of fixtures in the Premier League meaningless. Of course they should be punished. They wanted to destroy the integrity of the league.

The best way is to allow the Saudis to take over Newcastle and indeed any other takeover that does not involve buying the club with its own future revenue, like the Glazers, Gillette/Hicks, and lots of takeovers in the lower leagues. That is the only test necessary. Abandon financial fair play, because it is a joke and if actually applied would simply pull up the ladder to the top. If a billionaire, say Rishi Sunak or Kim Kardashian, wants to bankroll a team, let him/her.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is a real loss to the global soccer market (including USA, Asia, Africa, etc). It's a shame they'll be denied what would've been a magnificent spectacle to pacify a few UK based so called fans!

English fans of English clubs. The reaction of fans in Spain was similar too.

The spectacle of weekly mega matches would have severely damaged the game. After all, in Japan you have two professional baseball leagues of 6 teams who play each other over and over again - so dull.

The big spectacles at the time of the Champions League will still be there - enjoy them when they happen as a special event.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

While being presented in the media as a victory for the fans, John Barnes points out it is just a victory for the status quo. He makes some good points. The Super League versus the current situation. The fans don't play much part in either.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-56829809

More importantly, where do Raith Rovers fit into this?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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