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How English Premier League clubs poked holes in European Super League plans

PREMIER LEAGUE By Associated Press | April 22nd 2021
Fans burn a Liverpool replica shirt outside Elland Road, as a protest against Liverpool's decision to be included amongst the clubs attempting to form a new European Super League, in Leeds, England, Monday, April 19, 2021. [Zac Goodwin/PA via AP]

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 organisation 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.

“I said yesterday that it is admirable to admit a mistake and these clubs made a big mistake,” he said. “But they are back in the fold now and I know they have a lot to offer not just to our competitions but to the whole of the European game.”

[Photo: Courtesy]

“The important thing now is that we move on, rebuild the unity that the game enjoyed before this and move forward together.”

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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.

“We have listened carefully to the reaction from our fans, the UK government and other key stakeholders,” said the club owned by the American Glazer family and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. “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.”

Just as the Glazers also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Stan Kroenke has the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams in his portfolio along with Arsenal.

It is the closed models of American sports that were believed to be so appealing to the U.S. owners by offering financial certainty.

But they were resisted by fans of English clubs.

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.”

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