Super League collapses as English clubs withdraw on wild day of U-turns
The Super League crumbled as quickly as it arose.
Amid a furious backlash, all six English clubs decided to leave the ESL just days after revealing their intention to join the competition.
Manchester City led the way Tuesday, announcing they "formally enacted the procedures" to withdraw hours before Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Chelsea made their exits official.
In the wake of the mass exodus, the Super League said it would "reconsider" the project. Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli, one of the founders of the breakaway tournament, acknowledged that it's now untenable.
Arsenal were the first club to offer an official apology to their fans. Liverpool owner John W. Henry, meanwhile, took responsibility for the Reds' involvement, admitting the fan response was a catalyst behind the U-turn.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy said he regrets "the anxiety and upset caused by the ESL proposal" but 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."
Real Madrid and Barcelona are the only founding members of the Super League yet to formally release a statement of their intentions. It's unclear if they will also withdraw, though it now seems inevitable.
Amid the chaos of the apparently failed tournament, beleaguered Manchester United executive Ed Woodward resigned.
"I am delighted to welcome City back to the European football family," said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, who earlier on Tuesday encouraged the teams to admit their mistake and change course. "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."
Response to the Super League has been scathing since plans were announced on Sunday, with fans, players, coaches, national governments, and, of course, the sport's governing bodies condemning the idea of a closed event. UEFA blasted the so-called "dirty dozen," threatening sanctions, including banning players from the World Cup.
Over 1,000 fans gathered outside Stamford Bridge on Tuesday to protest the proposed league, which was met with widespread derision when 12 of the continent's richest teams pledged to band together.
Less than two hours after the protests began, reports started filtering in that the Blues were pulling out of the competition.
Europe's biggest sides engineered the planned 20-team event to guarantee a consistent and massive revenue stream. The 12 founding members had agreed to share an initial pot worth €3.5 billion.
The Super League was viewed as a Champions League replacement, with teams hoping to continue competing in domestic competitions. But the concept of a closed league, in which 15 clubs would be permanent members, was lambasted.
Fans protested in the streets, players and managers spoke out, and, ultimately, it appears that was enough to derail a plan that top clubs have long held over UEFA as leverage.
"It's not a sport when the relation between effort and reward doesn't exist," Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said Tuesday, echoing one of the most prominent complaints about the idea.