Football
Sports 21/04/2021

Real Madrid and Barça left alone in the Super League

Atlético, Inter, Milan and Juventus have joined the six English clubs that withdrew on Tuesday

4 min
Chelsea fans rejoin the Superleague

BarcelonaAtlético Madrid have become the first of the three La Liga clubs to leave the Super League. In a statement, the Madrid side have argued that with the change of circumstances in the project they consider it best to dissociate themselves from it. Atlético has been the first to follow the path taken yesterday by the six English clubs, joined today by the three Italian clubs: Inter, Milan and Juventus.

Yesterday, pressure from players, coaches, fans and the main organisations of English (FA), European (UEFA) and world (FIFA) football has caused a rout among supporters of the Super League in England. The six founding clubs have backed out of the project. Two days after it was announced, the new continental competition that Florentino Perez was to preside over may be on the verge of collapse. Manchester City's resignation was the first to be made official on Tuesday evening: "We can confirm that we have initiated procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a Super League". Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool published their resignations at the same time, shortly after midnight on Wednesday. The gunners were particularly harsh: "We are withdrawing from the proposed Super League. We have made a mistake and we apologise".

Despite the news coming from England, the six survivors of the initiative - three Italian and three Spanish - did not give it up for dead. In a statement issued just a few minutes before 2am, they said: "The European Super League is convinced that the current status quo of European football has to change. We propose a new European competition because the existing system does not work. Our proposal must allow the sport to evolve while generating resources and stability for the entire football pyramid, including support to overcome the financial difficulties experienced by the entire community due to the pandemic [...]. Despite the departure of the English clubs because of the pressure they have been under, we believe that our idea is in line with European law and regulations as demonstrated by a court decision that has protected the Super League from third party decisions. Given the circumstances, we have to reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project, always keeping in mind we want to offer our fans the best possible experience". In the end, it was in vain.

Manchester United chairman resigns

As well as resigning from the competition, Manchester United announced that their chairman Ed Woodward will step down at the end of the year in the face of pressure from players, coaches, fans and anti-Super League officials. Woodward was one of the main supporters of the initiative. In Italy there were also reports of the possible dismissal of Andrea Agnelli, head of Juventus, because of all the controversy. However, none of the major Italian newspapers have confirmed the news.

Meanwhile, at Liverpool, team captain Jordan Henderson released a short statement signed by all the players in the squad to criticise the Super League plans: "We don't like it, this is our collective position. Our commitment to this football club and its fans is absolute and unconditional." Previously, Henderson had met with the captains of all 20 Premier League teams. He will be pleased, then, with the reaction from the club that pays his wages.

After seeing the disbandment of English clubs, Gerard Pique made the first statement from a Barça player about the whole mess. The Catalan defender tweeted in English, plain and simple, but forceful: "Football belongs to the fans. Today more than ever." Subsequently, in Castilian, Pique replied to the editorial of El Chiringuito, the programme in which Florentino Perez defended the Super Legue on Monday: "Yesterday a party, today sunk. Florentino's Chiringuito".

In a statement collected on Tuesday by newspaper L'Équipe Pérez was asked if he was worried about the English clubs leaving. "It does not worry me. The current football situation is so serious that everyone has agreed to carry out this project and look for a solution. Nobody has been pressured to be part of it," said the president of Madrid, who had an agreed interview on El larguero of Cadena SER and had to cancel it.

Guardiola, critical of the Super League

Before all these events were precipitated, at noon Pep Guardiola strongly criticised the Super League due to the fact that there are some teams that are guaranteed participation always, independently of their performance: "It is not a sport when the relation between effort and success, between effort and reward, does not exist. It is not sport. It's not a sport when success is guaranteed from the start. It's not a sport if it doesn't matter if you lose. I've said it many times, I want the best competition, and as tough as possible, especially in the Premier League, and it's not fair when a team fights and fights and fights and fights and comes top of everything and doesn't qualify because success is only guaranteed for a few clubs. In the statement [announcing the creation of the Super League] that's what I perceive. I don't know if it will change and people will say something else.

Faced with UEFA's threats to expel the Super League's member clubs from this year's Champions League - it would affect Man City, Real Madrid and Chelsea - the Catalan coach was categorical: "We will play in the Champions League next week and we will try to reach the final, and next season we will play in European competitions because we deserve it, because we have earned it on the pitch". The other team qualified for the semi-finals of the Champions League is PSG, disassociated from the project. "We believe that any proposal without the support of UEFA does not solve the problems that exist in the football community. The Super League responds to personal interests. PSG will continue to work with the ECA and UEFA," said the French club's president, Nasser al-Khelaifi

Bayern and Borussia Dortmund have also distanced themselves from the project. Indeed, the German Football Federation on Monday morning, aligning itself with UEFA, called for the 12 founding Super League clubs - Madrid, Barça, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter, Milan, Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea - to be excluded from all competitions.

Barça would put it to a vote

Barça's support as a founding member for the creation of the Super League is subject to approval by the assembly of delegates. In spite of the fact that the statutes don't require Barça's management to submit it to the vote, if the assembly votes against it, the management would back out. Barça has not yet made a public pronouncement on the matter and only Barça and Madrid are supporting the Super League.

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