Football's 'big six' pull out of European Super League

The Premier League 'big six' have all announced their intention to be founding members of a new European Super League.

The so-called 'big six' have withdrawn from the European Super League. - Credit: Archant

The European Super League has announced it is considering "appropriate steps to reshape the project" - after England's so-called 'big six' football clubs withdrew from the breakaway competition.

There was a flurry of withdrawals from the hugely controversial league on Tuesday night, with Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea all confirming their departures.

The six Premier League clubs had joined forces with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan to create a rival competition to the Champions League.

That had prompted fury among fans because its 'founder members' - who were all apparently unhappy with UEFA's proposed changes to the Champions League - were to be granted automatic entry each year.

It met with immediate and fierce condemnation from across the sporting and political spectrum, including from Norwich City supporters and former players.

There was also disgruntlement from within the clubs involved, with managers such as Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp and Manchester City's Pep Guardiola voicing dissatisfaction.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for Norwich City during his pre-match press confer

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. - Credit: PA

However, the Super League remained defiant in its statement on Wednesday morning, adding it is "convinced that the current status quo of European football needs to change".

It said: "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.

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"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.

"We are proposing a new European competition because the existing system does not work.

"Our proposal is aimed at allowing the sport to evolve while generating resources and stability for the full football pyramid, including helping to overcome the financial difficulties experienced by the entire football community as a result of the pandemic."

Manchester City became the first team to quit the controversial project on Tuesday evening and were later followed by Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal.

Chelsea confirmed it had started proceedings to withdraw from the breakaway competition in a statement in the early hours of Wednesday.

It capped a remarkable evening of developments in the saga which also saw United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward resign.

A statement from United, believed to be one of the driving forces behind the scheme, 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."

Liverpool also confirmed they had taken their decision to pull out in response to considerable negative feedback.

A statement read: "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."

Arsenal issued a more emotive statement in which they apologised to supporters.

It read: "The last few days have shown us yet again the depth of feeling our supporters around the world have for this great club and the game we love.

"We needed no reminding of this but the response from supporters in recent days has given us time for further reflection and deep thought.

"It was never our intention to cause such distress, however when the invitation to join the Super League came, while knowing there were no guarantees, we did not want to be left behind to ensure we protected Arsenal and its future.

"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."

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said: "We regret the anxiety and upset caused by the ESL proposal.

"We felt it was important that our club participated in the development of a possible new structure that sought to better ensure financial fair play and financial sustainability whilst delivering significantly increased support for the wider football pyramid.

"We believe that we should never stand still and that the sport should constantly review competitions and governance to ensure the game we all love continues to evolve and excite fans around the world.

"We should like to thank all those supporters who presented their considered opinions."

Manchester City's statement was more succinct, 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."

Meanwhile, Chelsea said: "We have now had time to consider the matter fully and have decided that our continued participation in these plans would not be in the best interests of the Club, our supporters or the wider football community."

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