All six English clubs involved in the European Super League plans have dramatically quit the much-maligned competition following a huge fan backlash.
After days of fury from fans and players alike, Manchester City tonight became the first club to announce plans to walk away from the hated tournament.
In a statement the club said it had ‘formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group’ behind the proposals.
It came after reports suggested Chelsea were set to turn their backs on the £4billion plans.
But now, in a stunning conclusion to the saga, the remaining four English teams, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have announced they will follow suit.
Bosses at England’s six biggest teams had earlier held emergency meetings after realising they were alienating their fans and infuriating politicians with their cynical move.
All six English clubs involved in the European Super League have quit the hated competition, after Manchester City became the first club to walk away
Wealthy west London side Chelsea (pictured left: Owner Roman Abramovich) are said to be preparing documentation to withdraw from the much-maligned new tournament, according to the BBC. Moments after the reports surfaced, it emerged that mega-rich Manchester City (pictured right: Owner Sheikh Mansour) could also pull out, dealing a huge double blow to the breakaway competition.
In a sign of a potential split at Manchester United, it was tonight announced the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward would leave the club at the end of 2021
The Manchester club later confirmed its intention to withdraw in a short one-line statement, saying: ‘Manchester City Football Club can confirm that it has formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League’
Arsenal tonight issued a grovelling apology to fans, who yesterday protested outside the club’s ground with fans calling for their owner Stan Kroenke to leave.
Tonight, in their statement, the north London club said: ‘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 apologise for it.’
Meanwhile Liverpool, who today faced a social media revolt from its players, including captain Jordan Henderson, said: ‘Liverpool Football Club can confirm that our involvement in proposed plans to form a European Super League has been discontinued.
‘In recent days, the club has received representations from various key stakeholders, both internally and externally, and we would like to thank them for their valuable contributions.’
Liverpool and Manchester United, both owned by American businessman, were said to be driving forces behind the project, which also involved European giants Real Madrid and AC Milan.
Chelsea, who were playing Brighton tonight in the Premier League, have not yet released a formal statement. Pictured: Fans protested outside Stamford Bridge tonight
Tonight United, whose executive vice chairman Ed Woodward announced he would step down amid the row, said the club would not be participating in the league.
However the club said it remained ‘committed’ to coming-up with ‘sustainable solutions to the long-term challenges facing the game’.
The statement read: ‘Manchester United will not be participating in the European Super League.
‘We have listened carefully to the reaction from our fans, the UK government and other key stakeholders.
‘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.’
Meanwhile, Tottenham took to Twitter to announce the club would no longer be a part of the Super League proposals.
In a statement, the club said: ‘We can confirm that we have formally commenced procedures to withdraw from the group developing proposals for a European Super League (ESL).’
Chelsea, who were playing Brighton tonight in the Premier League, have not yet released a formal statement.
However the club were the first English side to feature in reports suggesting they could quit the competition.
City, Chelsea, United, Arsenal, Atletico, Barcelona, Liverpool, Spurs, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid had sparked outrage among much of the footballing world when they released a joint statement on Sunday announcing the £4.6billion proposals.
But, less than 72 hours after the announcement was made, the plans crumbled through this evening. Manchester City’s statement read: ‘Manchester City Football Club can confirm that it has formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League.’
News of the sudden change-of-heart came as hundreds of Chelsea fans tonight rallied against the club’s involvement in the breakaway plans in a rowdy protest outside Stamford Bridge.
Some held up placards and flares, while others threw bottles as they chanted: ‘We want our Chelsea back.’
Another banner demanded that club owner Roman Abramovich ‘do the right thing’.
Fans blocked the Chelsea team coach’s entry to the stadium, ahead of their Premier League clash against Brighton, sparking club legend and current technical director Petr Cech to get among supporters in a bid to appease them.
But it was only once news broke that the club could now withdraw from the tournament did fans relent – loudly cheering the decision and the club’s name.
Earlier, in a sign of uncertainty from within the City camp, boss Pep Guardiola criticised the plans, while United striker Marcus Rashford also took aim at the proposals, sharing the quote ‘football is nothing without fans’.
The clubs had hoped to share out a mutlibillion-pound bonanza through a ‘welcome bonus’ of up to £250million per club from the US investment banking giant JP Morgan Chase.
Dubbed the ‘Dirty Dozen’, the rebel clubs would have cashed in indefinitely because the ESL had no relegation. It would have undermined the Champions League and the Premier League, also denying money to lower-ranked clubs and grassroots teams.
Boris Johnson had indicated the Government would try to scupper the competition and described it last night as a ‘cartel’.
The breakaway was launched when the 12 members of the ESL released an explosive statement on Sunday night confirming the creation of ‘a format for top clubs and players to compete on a regular basis’.
The other ‘founding clubs’ which signed up were Italy’s AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus, and Spain’s Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The clubs had hoped to launch the midweek tournament in August. There would have been a mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season, making a total of 20.
The plans immediately sparked uproar from supporters, players, politicians and sporting bodies.
Prince William warned of the damage it could do to ‘the game we love’ and insisted the ‘values of competition and fairness’ in sport must be protected.
Comedian and presenter James Corden launched into a six-minute rant about the evils of the ESL on his Late Late Show in America.
The West Ham fan said: ‘I’m heartbroken by it, genuinely heartbroken by it. I’m heartbroken because the owners of these teams have displayed the worst kind of greed I’ve ever seen in sport.’
Former England captain David Beckham wrote on Instagram: ‘We need football to be for everyone. We need football to be fair and we need competitions based on merit. Unless we protect these values the game we love is in danger.’
Hours before last night’s announcements, Beckham’s former England teammate Alan Shearer predicted that some of the clubs involved would be considering their positions as a result of the condemnation.
The striker-turned-pundit said: ‘They have thrown a hand grenade, let’s throw one back and ban them.
‘When you look at the reaction over the last 36 hours, common sense would tell you that these clubs will have to go away and think “Have we really done the right thing here?”.
‘Where are these owners? Why don’t they come out and face the media and tell us why they’ve done it, why they want a closed shop that no one else can get into?’
Mr Johnson urged any of the clubs wavering over their decision to join the ESL to pull out.
He said on Twitter: ‘The decision by Chelsea and Manchester City is – if confirmed – absolutely the right one. I hope the other clubs involved in the European Super League will follow their lead.’
During the day Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin piled more pressure on the wavering English clubs by telling them they had ‘made a huge mistake’.
The ESL’s collapse began to unfold just before 7pm when it emerged that Chelsea was seeking to pull out.