Six English football clubs are to pull out of controversial plans to launch a new European Super League following widespread outrage.
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.
The European Super League said it will consider “the most appropriate steps to reshape the project” after the so-called Big Six withdrew.
Those behind the Super League said it had proposed the new league “because the existing system does not work”.
“Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due to the pressure put on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations as was demonstrated today by a court decision to protect the Super League from third party actions,” the league added in its statement.
“Given the current circumstances, 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.”
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.
The Super League organisers, headed by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, had said they hoped to add three more founding members before launching their competition “as soon as practicable”.
The Super League argues it would increase revenues to the top clubs and allow them to distribute more money to the rest of the game. However, the sport’s governing bodies, other teams and fan organisations say it will increase the power and wealth of the elite clubs and the closed structure of the league goes against European football’s long-standing model.
In a statement issued before most clubs had announced their intention to quit the new league, the Football Association 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”.
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.”
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.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.