The greatest three day saga in the history of sport is over... for now. Last night, the six English clubs, on the lead of Manchester City and Chelsea, the two most reluctant to the break away in the first place, pulled out of The Super League and left the entire endeavour in tatters, less than 48 hours after it was officially announced.
While the six remaining Super League members have vowed to plow on and come up with something new, the dream is over for now. The consequences for the clubs, especially in England, remain unclear. A meeting of the 14 other Premier League clubs yesterday was said to be full of fire and brimstone, with The Athletic reporting one source telling them, “How can we ever work with these people again? They’ve betrayed us. They’ve spent years telling us barefaced lies.”
It is thought those running the clubs below ownership level will be forced to fall on the swords. Manchester United's Ed Woodward has already tendered his resignation. There was also discussion about new fit and proper ownership models for the league.
Naturally, with their tail between the legs, in the face of unprecedented opposition and even in the face of unbridled unity in natural enemies, the six clubs have begun their quest to get things back to normal. How much damage has been done is impossible to say at this stage, but the first efforts of the clubs involved won't go very far to getting them back in the good graces of supporters or their fellow football clubs.
The first team to officially pull out of The Super League also released the shortest statement on the matter. No apology or anything close to was included.
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 were initially the only club to issue an apology for their part in the rogue group.
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.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) April 20, 2021
Their open letter on Arsenal.com went further.
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.
We know it will take time to restore your faith in what we are trying to achieve here at Arsenal but let us be clear that the decision to be part of the Super League was driven by our desire to protect Arsenal, the club you love, and to support the game you love through greater solidarity and financial stability.
Stability is essential for the game to prosper and we will continue to strive to bring the security the game needs to move forward.
The system needs to be fixed. We must work together to find solutions which protect the future of the game and harness the extraordinary power football has to get us on the edge of our seats.
Finally, we know this has been hugely unsettling at the end of what has been an incredibly difficult year for us all.
Our aim is always to make the right decisions for this great football club, to protect it for the future and to take us forward. We didn’t make the right decision here, which we fully accept.
We have heard you.
The Arsenal Board
At the same time as Arsenal came out with their statement, Liverpool also officially pulled out, without an apology. However, a video from John Henry was released this morning with the apology to fans.
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.
John W Henry's message to Liverpool supporters. pic.twitter.com/pHW3RbOcKu
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 21, 2021
United's statement came a good two hours after they announced the departure of Woodward. That initial statement made no mention whatsoever about The Super League. When The Super League statement did come, it struck a slightly more defiant note than the others.
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.
Joel Glazer has now also chipped in with an "open letter" for Manchester United fans in which he makes an apology, vows to heal wounds with fans and stakeholders, communicate better in future, and appears to commit Manchester United to not join a protectionist league again, citing the importance of relegation and promotion.
To all Manchester United supporters,
Over the past few days, we have all witnessed the great passion which football generates, and the deep loyalty our fans have for this great club.You made very clear your opposition to the European Super League, and we have listened. We got it wrong, and we want to show that we can put things right.
Although the wounds are raw and I understand that it will take time for the scars to heal, I am personally committed to rebuilding trust with our fans and learning from the message you delivered with such conviction.
We continue to believe that European football needs to become more sustainable throughout the pyramid for the long-term. However, we fully accept that the Super League was not the right way to go about it.
In seeking to create a more stable foundation for the game, we failed to show enough respect for its deep-rooted traditions –promotion, relegation, the pyramid – and for that we are sorry.
This is the world’s greatest football club and we apologise unreservedly for the unrest caused during these past few days.
It is important for us to put that right.
Manchester United has a rich heritage and we recognise our responsibility to live up to its great traditions and values.
The pandemic has thrown up so many unique challenges and we are proud of the way Manchester United and its fans from Manchester and around the world have reacted to the enormous pressures during this period.
We also realise that we need to better communicate with you, our fans, because you will always be at the heart of the club.
In the background, you can be sure that we will be taking the necessary steps to rebuild relationships with other stakeholders across the game, with a view to working together on solutions to the long-term challenges facing the football pyramid.
Right now, our priority is to continue to support all of our teams as they push for the strongest possible finish to the season.
In closing, I would like to recognise that it is your support which makes this club so great, and we thank you for that.
With best regards,
Chelsea were the first to make the break, soon after huge protests outside Stamford Bridge, but they were the last to make the statement. Given they were the only team of the six who were actually playing last night, it was understandable. Their statement was an pains to point out the club weren't among the ring leaders of the project, and only reluctantly joined last week. We're not sure they'll get extra points for jumping into a nuclear option without even considering the consequences.
As reported earlier this evening, Chelsea Football Club can confirm that it has begun the formal procedures for withdrawal from the group developing plans for a European Super League.
Having joined the group late last week, 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.
And we haven't forgotten Spurs, even if Florentino Perez did.
The released their statement at 9.55, the same time as Arsenal and Liverpool, and at least included some direct quotes from Daniel Levy, unlike most of the other clubs.
We can confirm that we have formally commenced procedures to withdraw from the group developing proposals for a European Super League (ESL).
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.”
All six clubs still have a lot more explaining to do before things go back to normal.