The general clamor in England among the political class and among the fans caused the six English clubs to abandon the Super League project on Tuesday just 48 hours after its birth. This is a lethal blow to the plan hatched between 12 of the most powerful clubs in Europe that had defied UEFA and FIFA and were determined to change the structures and business model of the football industry.
Chelsea and Manchester City were the first to show symptoms of doubt in the face of fan protests. The match between the blue team and Brighton was delayed by 15 minutes due to protests from fans in the vicinity of Stamford Bridge. In another of the 12, Manchester United, the announcement of the departure of Ed Woodward as president took place. Each step already announced the stampede of the six English clubs.
In the previous hours, the first critical voices had already emerged, even from within the founding clubs. City coach Pep Guardiola, for example, stated: “A sport ceases to be a sport when the relationship between effort and success does not exist. It is not a sport if success is already guaranteed in advance, and it does not matter if you win or lose, “said Guardiola. His colleagues Jürgen Klopp, from Liverpool, and especially Marcelo Bielsa, from Leeds, had already been against it. At Leeds-Liverpool last Monday, the local players came out wearing a jersey that bore the legend: “Win it on the pitch. Soccer belongs to the fans ”.
The firm decision of Manchester City, the first to announce that he was getting off the boat, left the project very touched. “Without the English, German and French clubs, this is no longer a European competition. Boris Johnson’s pressure has had its effect, ”lamented a leader of one of the Super League clubs.
In an interview with the newspaper L’Équipe, Florentino Pérez, president of Real Madrid and proclaimed head of the Super League, claimed not to fear for the abandonment of any of the founding members. “The situation is so serious that everyone agrees to carry out this project and seek a solution,” said Pérez convinced. The reality was very different in the end. That half of the clubs that started the project were English has ended up dynamiting it. The long-awaited adhesion of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and PSG was also nipped in the bud by the leaders of these three clubs themselves. They all publicly stated that they would not join the project and showed their rejection of the Super League.
City was followed by United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea, which now leaves Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético, Juventus, Inter and Milan as the only clubs still in the project. The rout seems to bury what was shaping up to be the great revolution in the football industry since the Bosman ruling. The ambitious plan, branded unsupportive by UEFA, the federations and domestic leagues, fell apart just 48 after it started.
During the afternoon and night of this Tuesday there were telematic meetings and telephone calls between the leaders of the dozen founding clubs in which the cracks that dynamited the group’s unity were revealed. Several of them, like Atlético de Madrid, advocated not being so belligerent with UEFA. In turn, the hard core of the promoters demanded the need to remain firm in the decision to break with the European institution and to move forward with the project. All agree to end the monopoly of the organization and operation of international competitions exercised by FIFA and UEFA. However, not all were for the task of entrenching themselves against both institutions. The disunity and fears that the 12 founders seemed to have overcome when they announced the birth of the groundbreaking competition reappeared in the face of political pressure and widespread protests from fans.
Among the opponents of the Super League there were already airs of victory in the middle of the afternoon before the news that arrived from England. “This is going to stay in a triangle between Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético,” predicted a senior LaLiga manager.
When City’s resignation was known, UEFA President Alexander Ceferin of Slovenia made no secret of his satisfaction: “I am delighted to welcome City back to the European football family. He has shown great intelligence in listening to the many voices, especially those of his fans, who have explained the vital benefits that the current system has for all of European football, from the victory in the Champions League final to the first session of training of a young player in a youth soccer club ”.
The drip of abandonments may end up finishing the Super League shortly.
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