Plans for the European Super League fell further into crisis late Tuesday, with all six English clubs announcing they were turning away from their involvement in the controversial project.
Manchester City were the first to formally confirm on Tuesday night that they were quitting the competition, two days after it was announced amid wide-ranging outrage.
In a short statement, Manchester City Football Club said they had “formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League.”
Statements confirming the withdrawal of the other five clubs —- champions Liverpool FC, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal FC and Chelsea —— followed soon after.
“Having joined the group late last week, we have now had time to consider the matter fully.
“We 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,” Chelsea said, confirming earlier media reports.
There was also speculation in Spain that FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid may be planning similar steps.
This development is what should be a fatal blow to the planned all but closed elite event for which 12 teams had signed up.
The announcement to form the breakaway Super League consisting of 20 teams with 15 permanent members sent shockwaves around the world.
It drew wide-ranging condemnation from politicians, federations and fans.
The establishment of the multi billion-dollar league would have been in direct competition with the Champions League of the European Football Union UEFA.
The project was to be financed by a U.S. bank.
In a bid to stave off the threat, on Monday UEFA agreed to revise the Champions League from 2024 onwards with 100 more matches and expand it from 32 to 36 teams.
An emergency meeting of the 12 clubs from England, Spain and Italy was said to be scheduled for Tuesday night, according to Spanish sports newspaper Marca.
Of the founding 12 clubs, half were English teams.
No club from Germany’s Bundesliga had joined the Super League.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had vowed to do everything to prevent the six listed English clubs from featuring in the breakaway event and welcomed the initial withdrawal reports.
“The decision by Chelsea and Manchester City is —— if confirmed —— absolutely the right one and I commend them for it,” Johnson tweeted shortly before Manchester City’s confirmation.
“I hope the other clubs involved in the European Super League will follow their lead.”
Naming the club “a real asset for the game,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: “I am delighted to welcome Manchester City back to the European football family.
“They have shown great intelligence in listening to the many voices —- most notably their fans —- that have spelled out the vital benefits that the current system has for the whole of European football.”
The Football Association (in England) said: “We welcome the news that some of the clubs have decided to abandon the plans for the European Super League, which threatened the whole football pyramid.
“English football has a proud history based on opportunity for all clubs and the game has been unanimous in its disapproval of a closed league.
“It was a proposition that, by design, could have divided our game. But, instead, it has unified us all.”
Hundreds of Manchester City fans were protesting their club’s Super League involvement ahead of their team’s Premier League match on Tuesday, further adding to the week’s mounting pressure.
The Super League was dealt an early blow when Champions League winners Bayern Munich and finalists Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) made it clear that they would not be joining.
Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer had insisted: “FC Bayern says no to the Super League.”
Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge returned into the UEFA executive committee and PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was also re-elected —— a clear snub towards the breakaway clubs.
Meanwhile, Liverpool saw their timing sponsors withdraw and players led by captain Jordan Henderson also voicing opposition.
“We don’t like it and we won’t want it to happen. This is our collective position. Our commitment to this football club and its supporters is absolute and unconditional,” their tweet read.
Super League and Real Madrid president Florentino Perez had late Monday told El Chiringuito TV that “we have to make it (football) more attractive. It is not something for the rich. We do this to save football.”
And a Spanish mercantile court judge Tuesday issued a preliminary ruling that prohibited FIFA, UEFA and others from taking any kind of action against the Super League clubs or players.
The ruling may now be obsolete as the remaining teams appeared to crumble amid the condemnations and sanction threats.
The other teams being Barca, Real and Atletico from Spain, and from Italy AC Milan and Inter Milan, as well as Juventus.(dpa/NAN)