European Super League collapses: a victory for football fans?

Juventus chief admits defeat after nine clubs withdraw from breakaway competition 

Chelsea fans protest against the Super League outside Stamford Bridge
Chelsea fans protested against the Super League outside Stamford Bridge
(Image credit: Rob Pinney/Getty Images)

Plans for the breakaway European Super League are in tatters after nine of the 12 founder member clubs withdrew following furious backlash against the proposals.

The six Premier League sides who had signed up for the competition - Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham - all confirmed they were withdrawing.

Inter Milan, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid have also walked away as the Super League becomes the “Super Leave”, Sky Sports says. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus remain involved in the project.

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Here we look at the latest developments from a dramatic few days in the world of football.

1. Juve chief Agnelli admits defeat

Juventus chief Andrea Agnelli, who is a vice-chairman of the breakaway Super League, says it cannot proceed after the withdrawal of the clubs and furious reactions from fans, associations and the media.

However, he still believed in the merits of the Super League and had no regrets about how the breakaway had been conducted, Reuters reports. Speaking to the news agency Agnelli says he remained “convinced of the beauty of that project” but “admittedly... I mean, I don’t think that that project is now still up and running”.

The Juventus chairman, who resigned his position as chairman of the European Clubs’ Association, was described as a “snake and a liar” by Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin, BBC Sport reports.

2. Is this really a victory for fans?

Chelsea fans gathered outside Stamford Bridge last night to protest the Super League and celebrated once news broke that their club were planning to withdraw from the competition.

The London Evening Standard described the collapse as a “victory for football fans on a game-changing night”, but former Liverpool and England star John Barnes does not agree.

Barnes says the withdrawal of the “Big Six” from the controversial plans should not be considered a victory for football fans around the country, the Daily Mail reports.

“Let’s not make any mistake about what this was about,” he said on talkRADIO. “This was about 12 groups who wanted the power to exploit football. It was never about the fans, it was about Uefa trying to hold on to power, the Premier League trying to hold on to their power, and this new group, the European Super League, trying to come into power.

“This is being framed as a power victory for the fans. It is not a victory for the fans, it’s a victory for whoever wins ‘can I exploit football fans?’”

3. Owners of rebel clubs must ‘beg for forgiveness’

The owners of the six English clubs have come under heavy fire after their involvement with the Super League proposals. Managers and players were not informed of the plans and many have spoken out against the breakaway.

Despite the clubs withdrawing just 48 hours after the initial announcement, the focus will now be on how the six rebel clubs will be welcomed back by their Premier League rivals.

Former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock says the owners of the six clubs must “beg for forgiveness”. “The owners have to be very, very careful now,” Warnock told BBC Sport. “Expect a backlash when they come back to grounds - rightly so, because you’ve gone against the fans. You’ve thought they wanted to go a certain way without consulting them.

“It’s been abysmal the way it was handled. You’re seeing the power of the fans. Don’t forget football players are fans too. They know what it feels like to be a fan and understand the connection between the players, fans, the club - so I am absolutely delighted it’s fallen down and started to unravel.”

4. Liverpool owner tells fans: I’ve let you down

Liverpool FC

Liverpool principal owner John W Henry has this morning issued a message to supporters and taken sole responsibility for “disruption I caused over the past 48 hours”.

In an open letter to fans Henry said: “It goes without saying but should be said that the project put forward was never going to stand without the support of the fans. No-one ever thought differently in England.

“Over these 48 hours you were very clear that it would not stand. We heard you. I heard you. I hope you’ll understand that even when we make mistakes, we’re trying to work in your club’s best interests. In this endeavour I’ve let you down.”

The Arsenal board also admitted it had “made a mistake, and we apologise for it”.

5. Johnson confirms investigation into football governance

This morning in the House of Commons Boris Johnson confirmed that there would be a “root and branch” investigation into the governance of football and into “what we can do to promote the role of fans in that governance”.

“One of the most worrying features about the European Super League proposals is that they would have taken clubs that take their names from great, famous British towns and cities, English towns and cities, and turned them just into global brands with no relation to the fans, to the communities that gave them life and that give them the most love and support,” he said. “And that was in my view totally wrong, to say nothing of the lack of competition.”

6. Is this the end of the Super League?

Plans for a European Super League may look dead and buried, for now, but there’s still many questions left unanswered. Sky Sports News’s Kaveh Solhekol says talk of a Super League has been “ongoing since the 1960s” but the optimist will say that “hopefully this is the end, once and for all”.

“This has been such a fiasco that hopefully no one will try this again,” he added. “My fear is that people will look at this and say, ‘we can learn from what these people got wrong. In the future, if we try this again, let’s learn from their mistakes’. I’m not 100% sure that somebody won’t try this again in the future.”

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Mike Starling is the digital features editor at The Week, where he writes content and edits the Arts & Life and Sport website sections and the Food & Drink and Travel newsletters. He started his career in 2001 in Gloucestershire as a sports reporter and sub-editor and has held various roles as a writer and editor at news, travel and B2B publications. He has spoken at a number of sports business conferences and also worked as a consultant creating sports travel content for tourism boards. International experience includes spells living and working in Dubai, UAE; Brisbane, Australia; and Beirut, Lebanon.