The Super League has announced it is considering reshaping the project, in the wake of the exit of England’s ‘big six’ from the proposed breakaway competition.
The Super League has collapsed before a ball was kicked in the European breakaway competition after being abandoned by its six English clubs, leaving the Spanish and Italian participants stranded.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur deserted the proposal to launch a largely-closed midweek competition amid an escalating backlash from their supporters and warnings from the British government that legislation could be introduced to thwart it.
The Super League project includes six other ‘founder’ clubs in Spain’s Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid and Italian trio Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.
The rival competition for the UEFA-run Champions League became unviable without the ‘big six’ clubs from the world’s richest league – just 48 hours after the concept was made public.
The remaining fledgling Super League organisation was defiant, blaming “pressure” being applied for forcing out the English clubs and insisting the proposal complied with the law and could yet be revived in some form.
“Given the current circumstances we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project, always having in mind our goals of offering fans the best experience possible while enhancing solidarity payments for the entire football community,” the Super League said in a statement.
The English clubs heeded the appeals from UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin to remain part of the Champions League, which has a qualification criteria based on a team’s performance in the domestic league.
“I said yesterday that it is admirable to admit a mistake and these clubs made a big mistake,” Ceferin said.
“But they are back in the fold now and I know they have a lot to offer not just to our competitions but to the whole of the European game.
“The important thing now is that we move on, rebuild the unity that the game enjoyed before this and move forward together.”
Reports in Spain claim that Barcelona and Atletico are also expected to withdraw while Italian media suggest both Milan clubs will join the exodus.
The Super League had argued that it would increase revenues to the top clubs and allow them to distribute more money to the rest of the game.
However, the sport’s governing bodies, other teams and fan organisations said it would boost the power and wealth of the elite clubs and the partially closed structure of the league goes against European football’s long-standing model.
Unlike Europe’s elite Champions League competition, where teams have to qualify through their domestic league, the founding Super League teams would have guaranteed themselves a place in the 20-team competition every year.
Most of the statements from the English club’s were brief but Arsenal apologised to their fans for being involved.
The magnitude of the split in the game and the strength of feeling it generated led political leaders across Europe to speak out, and, in some cases, to threaten intervention.
Divisions within the Super League clubs grew with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola saying the Super League would damage the integrity and values of sport.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had also expressed concerns about the actions of his club.
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique added his voice tweeting: “Football belongs to the fans. Today more than ever.”