Instead of a “Super League”, a super flop: released by the six English clubs, this rival private competition of the Champions League lost on Tuesday April 20 half of its founders, powerless in the face of threats from football and to the outcry of supporters.
They thought they would convince the football world by offering more high-stakes matches, and were aiming for colossal income by securing a permanent ticket in an event almost inaccessible to other teams on the continent …
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But the twelve “Mutineers”, led by Real Madrid and Juventus Turin, exploded in midair as thunderous as they had seceded on the night of Sunday to Monday.
“We made a mistake”
Manchester City were the first to give in, announcing in a statement that they had “Formally launched the procedure to withdraw from the group responsible for developing the European Super League project”.
The other five English clubs followed: Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal initially in the late evening, followed two hours later by Chelsea who, in their statement found that “His participation [à ce projet] would not serve the interests of the club, its supporters and the wider football community ”.
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“We made a mistake and we apologize for that”, for his part recognized Arsenal in a statement, summing up in one sentence what supporters, authorities and governments have been striving to point out for two days.
Killed in the bud
An incredible turnaround came to relieve UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, who said he was “Delighted to welcome City’s return to the European football family”, in a statement sent to AFP before the defections of other Premier League leaders.
The promoters of the “Super League” may well have replied to the announcements of English clubs by issuing a press release in which they explain that they are going “Reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project”, the “Super League”, led by Florentino Pérez, the president of Real Madrid, seems to be completely nipped in the bud.
The result, no doubt, of the general outcry from the world of sports, politics and fans. “The decision, by Chelsea and Manchester City is – if it is confirmed absolutely the correct one, and I salute it “, wrote British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Twitter, shortly before the Citizens’ press release.
“I hope that the other clubs involved in the “Super League” European Union will follow this initiative ”, added Boris Johnson, who had promised to use all means against the “Super League”, “Including the legislative option”.
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In the evening, several hundred English club fans loudly expressed their disapproval near Stamford Bridge stadium in Chelsea, London. “Manchester City are in my blood, my uncle played for City and everyone in my family is City fan. But I don’t want us to be part of this elite, I would still prefer to see us in League Two (D4) ”, Zac Bookbinder, 16, told AFP, came to demonstrate with friends.
“Serpents Guided by Greed”
UEFA, which for its part defends its own reform of the Champions League, a traditional competition for clubs from the Old Continent since 1955, fired live ammunition on these Monday. “Snakes”, “Guided only by greed”, from the very words of Aleksander Ceferin.
He did not hesitate to threaten the twelve dissidents with draconian reprisals, such as the exclusion of these clubs from all national and international competitions, even brandishing a Euro or a World Cup without the international players playing in these teams.
But he also urged them to ” change one’s mind “ after “A huge mistake”, a successful move in the evening.
Respond at all levels
The “Super League” seemed to have anticipated this outcry and these threats. She even won a first legal victory on Tuesday by obtaining from a commercial court in Madrid a decision likely to temporarily freeze any sanction concerning her.
With a meeting scheduled for Friday of the UEFA Executive Committee, the issue of club exclusion “Mutineers” nevertheless remained on the table, in particular for the current edition of the Champions League, the last four of which includes three clubs concerned (Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid).
In the camp of opponents to the project, the response was organized at all levels. The players of Liverpool, a rebel club, have thus testified to their hostility to the project by publishing a joint statement against their employer, while Gérard Piqué, captain of Barcelona, hammered that “Football belongs to the fans”.
Fracture between clubs
One of the most vocal opinions came from Pep Guardiola, star coach of Manchester City, one of the dissident clubs. For the Catalan, this new European Cup disrupts the very idea of competition.
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These statements summarize the deep line of fracture created by the 12 rebel clubs, made up of six English, three Spanish, three Italians… but neither German nor French, who also criticized the project.
Despite the departure of the English clubs, the other teams cling to this project. In a press release published overnight, they ensure:
“We are convinced that our proposal is correct and in accordance with European rules. […] We will reconsider the measures necessary to reshape this project, always having in mind to offer the fans the best possible experience and strengthen the solidarity of the football community. “