Premier League leaders Manchester City were on the verge of pulling out of the newly-created European Super League on Tuesday, according to The Sun.
Shortly after the BBC and The Associated Press reported that Chelsea were preparing to quit the controversial new competition, City appeared to be following suit as the project looked to be crumbling.
In Chelsea’s case, the person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club has yet to send its decision to the organizers of the new, largely closed competition that would split the teams away from UEFA’s existing Champions League.
Man City and Chelsea were two of six English clubs announced among the 12 founders of the new competition that has provoked widespread condemnation from within the game and beyond.
Chelsea’s decision came as fans protested outside the club’s Stamford Bridge stadium and as English opposition to the Super League intensified.
English opposition to the Super League intensified on Tuesday when 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.”
Divisions within the Super League clubs also grew with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola saying joining a largely closed competition away from UEFA’s existing Champions League could damage the integrity and values of sport. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has also expressed concerns about the actions of his club’s owners while fans of Chelsea protested on Tuesday against their leadership outside Stamford Bridge.
The Premier League has already threatened the six Super League clubs with expulsion if they go it alone in Europe. The other 14 clubs met on Tuesday and “unanimously and vigorously” rejected the Super League plans.
“The Premier League is considering all actions available to prevent it from progressing, as well as holding those shareholders involved to account under its rules,” the English top division said in a statement.
WATCH | Soccer world rallies against breakaway Super League:
Rip up structures
The six clubs, driven by the American owners of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, have teamed up with three elite teams from both Spain and Italy to rip up the structures of the European game.
Tottenham is also part of the breakaway that would see the teams guaranteed entry each year into the Super League rather than having to qualify through the previous season’s Premier League placing.
“Sport is not a sport when the relationship between the effort and the success, the effort and reward doesn’t exist,” said Guardiola, whose Manchester City side leads the Premier League. “It’s not a sport. It’s not a sport when success is already guaranteed. It’s not a sport when it doesn’t matter when you lose.”
Premier League officials were also part of a meeting alongside representatives of fan groups led from Downing Street by Johnson, who called the Super League “anti-competitive” and pledged to “drop a legislative bomb” on it if necessary.
“I think it’s not in the interests of fans, it’s not in the interests of football,” Johnson said later in a news conference.
WATCH | Reaction to new Super League overwhemingly negative:
50-plus 1 rule
The government could adopt the 50-plus-1 rule from Germany that gives fans the majority of voting rights, nominally to protect clubs from being controlled by private investors. The Super League aims for 15 founding Super League clubs — three places are yet to be filled — and only five spots with more open access.
Everton decried the “preposterous arrogance” of Super League clubs. Everton’s nine titles are the fourth most by a team in the history of the English top division, and the club from Merseyside was considered part of the country’s elite in the 1980s and early 1990s.
“The backlash is understandable and deserved, and has to be listened to,” Everton’s board of directors said in a statement. “This preposterous arrogance is not wanted anywhere in football outside of the clubs that have drafted this plan.”
Everton’s majority owner, British-Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri, has spent heavily in recent years in an effort to push the team, which is managed by Carlo Ancelotti, into the group stage of the Champions League for the first time.
West Ham is also pursuing a top-four finish to qualify for the Champions League for the first time. The east London club said the Super League was an “attack on sporting integrity, undermines competition.”
Published at Tue, 20 Apr 2021 12:39:10 +0000