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English clubs to quit European Super League following fan backlash

PA Reporters
·3-min read

Six English football clubs are to pull out of controversial plans to launch a new European Super League following widespread outrage and the Prime Minister’s threats of legislative action.

Manchester City were the first to confirm their departure from the proposed competition, amid reports Chelsea were also planning to back out on Tuesday night.

Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham announced their planned withdrawals late on Tuesday.

The clubs’ intended exit comes swiftly after proposals for the new league were revealed on Sunday evening, triggering a wave of criticism from the football community as well as politicians.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously warned he was prepared to legislate to block the new league plans, accusing breakaway football clubs of forming “a kind of cartel”.

Earlier on Tuesday night he welcomed reports of Chelsea and Manchester City’s departures and urged other clubs to “follow their lead”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had also urged other clubs to “follow suit” on Twitter.

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Tom Greatrex, the vice-chair of the Football Supporters’ Association, earlier told the PA news agency: “It’s a spectacular miscalculation (by the clubs involved).

“If this was an attempt to gain leverage, I think they underestimated the collective will of those who love football, play football and are involved in football and assumed wrongly that that could be overridden by financial interests.”

In a statement issued before most clubs had announced their intention to quit the new league, the Football Association (FA) welcomed the news that some clubs were withdrawing their support, highlighting that “the game has been unanimous in its disapproval of a closed league”.

It said the proposals “could have divided our game; but instead, it has unified us all”.

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The FA’s statement added: “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.”

The Duke of Cambridge earlier held talks on the issue with the FA’s chief executive Mark Bullingham.

It follows William, the FA president, tweeting how he shared “the concerns of fans” over the proposals.

There was anger in the football community earlier on Tuesday over the actions of the so-called Big Six English clubs, with the Prime Minister telling the football authorities he was ready to “drop a legislative bomb” if necessary.

In a morning conference call with the FA and the Premier League, he had indicated the Government could act to ensure they did not fall foul of competition laws if they imposed sanctions on the clubs involved.

Speaking later at a Downing Street press conference, he said he was determined to prevent historic clubs being “dislocated” from their towns and cities and turned into “international brands and commodities” by billionaire owners without any say for the fans.

Premier League clubs who were part of the planned European Super League
Premier League clubs who were part of the planned European Super League (PA Graphics)

Under the now unravelling plan unveiled at the weekend, the six English clubs would have joined six leading Spanish and Italian clubs to set up an alternative competition to the European Champions League.

The proposal attracted particular ire as there would be no relegation from the Super League, regardless of how well clubs do on the field, although five of the best performing teams from outside the league would be invited to participate each year.

It led to calls for the clubs involved to be expelled from the Premier League amid suggestions their players could be barred from representing their countries in the World Cup or the European Championship.