Super League collapses after six English clubs withdraw

Super League collapses after six English clubs withdraw
Representational Image [Source: Flicke/Jarrett]

The Super League collapsed before a ball was kicked in the European breakaway competition after being abandoned by the six English clubs, leaving the Spanish and Italian participants stranded.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham throughout Tuesday evening deserted the proposal to launch a largely-closed midweek competition amid an escalating backlash from their supporters and warnings from the British government that legislation could be introduced to thwart it.

The Super League project was overseen by Real Madrid President Florentino Perez, who also signed up Barcelona and Atlético Madrid in Spain, and Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan from Italy. The rival for the UEFA-run Champions League became unviable without the six clubs from the world's richest league.

The remaining fledgling Super League organization was defiant, blaming "pressure" being applied for forcing out the English clubs and insisting the proposal complied with the law and could yet be revived in some form.

"Given the current circumstances," the Super League said in a statement, "we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project, always having in mind our goals of offering fans the best experience possible while enhancing solidarity payments for the entire football community."

The English clubs heeded the appeals from UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin to remain part of the Champions League, which has a qualification criteria based on a team's performance in the domestic league.

As it became clear Chelsea and City were quitting the Super League on Tuesday evening, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and his teammates posted a message advocating staying within the open European competitions.

Liverpool, which is owned by the Boston Red Sox investment group, eventually issued a statement thanking those inside and outside the club for "valuable contributions" before making the decision to stick within existing structures.

Manchester United defender Luke Shaw also went against his club by tweeting his backing of the existing Champions League minutes before his club's about-turn.  Tottenham also gave a detailed explanation for why it signed up before backing away.

"We regret the anxiety and upset caused by the ESL proposal," chairman Daniel Levy said. "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, which is owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, said it only joined the Super League group last week.

The Premier League threatened to sanction the six rebel clubs and Prime Minister Boris Johnson considered introducing laws to stop them forming a new European competition he called a "cartel."

The Premier League had threatened the six clubs with expulsion if they tried to go it alone in Europe. The other 14 clubs met Tuesday and "unanimously and vigorously" rejected the Super League plans. The Italian clubs declined to comment earlier, and the Spanish teams were not commenting late Tuesday.

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