European Super League: Key questions left behind: How did it unravel so quickly? What are the ramifications? – Sky Sports


The Premier League’s so-called ‘Big Six’ have confirmed their intention to pull out of the proposed European Super League.

Manchester City became the first team to quit the controversial project on Tuesday evening and were later followed by Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Arsenal.

It capped a remarkable evening of developments in the saga which also saw confirmation that United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is stepping down from his role.

The League Managers Association have welcomed the decision of the English clubs to withdraw from the proposed breakaway European Super League, describing the attempt as «clandestine collusion driven by opportunism, with such a blatant disregard for the history and integrity of our game».

On Wednesday morning, Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan also confirmed they are walking away, leaving only Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus of the 12 founding member clubs yet to comment.

But many questions have been left unanswered. Sky Sports looks at the ramifications for the backlash and collapse of the scheme, and whether those responsible for the proposals can be held to account…

European Super League statement

Why did the collapse unravel so quickly?

preview image 2:26
Liverpool owner John W Henry apologises to the club’s fans following their withdrawal from the European Super League. Twitter: @LFC

Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol:

«The reason I think it unravelled so quickly was because these owners are not as powerful as they think. They thought they could do whatever they wanted; leave the Premier League if they had to, set up a rival super league and they did not care about the consequences and what it was going to do to the rest of the English game and the rest of the game in Europe.

«I have spoken to some people at these breakaway clubs and again and again they tell me that the reason that they have changed their mind is because of the overwhelmingly negative global reaction from everyone. From fans, players, managers, administrators, UEFA, FIFA, government. Everyone was against this. They are telling me that is why they backtracked so quickly.»

Was the threat to kick clubs out of competitions ever viable?

‘Football could be governed by an independent body’ – Kaveh Solhekol on the withdrawal of the six English clubs from the proposed European Super League

Sports law expert Dr Katarina Pijetlovic told Sky Sports:

«In terms of banning clubs from playing in domestic competitions, yes. That was a viable threat both legally and practically. UEFA and FIFA have regulatory power to do that. It’s in their regulations and statutes, if an alternative league is set up without their prior approval, there would be sanctions.

«Especially in a closed league which doesn’t incorporate itself into a system of promotion and relegation. In terms of banning players from playing in World Cups or European Championships, this would be a more controversial issue. There is scope to argue that it would be taking it further than necessary.

«Legally, it could be argued it would not be proportionate as players have no control over what clubs do. They have contracts they have to honour.»

Aleksander Ceferin

Can we differentiate between the Big Six?

Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol:

«When you look back at this whole sorry episode, the only good news I think is firstly, that we got the right ending as far as real football fans are concerned; and secondly, at least it happened quickly because what they have done is drag the good names of their clubs through the mud and also drag the good name of English football through the mud.

«Don’t forget, some clubs looked at these proposals and said no thank you – PSG, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. It is absolutely shameful that not a single English club did what they did. They looked at these proposals, they saw pound signs, euro signs, dollar signs and said, ‘let’s go for it’.

«Now, I would differentiate between some of these breakaway clubs, because I think some of them jumped on board this train to nowhere at the last minute. The ring leaders, make no mistake, were the American-owned clubs. I am thinking of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

«You could have a bit of sympathy for Chelsea, Manchester City and Spurs – they decided to join at the last minute because they thought, ‘our rivals are setting up this league and this is something we have to be part of. This is the future.’ They admit that they made a mistake.»

Are there grounds to sanction clubs for an idea?

European Super League reaction
A selection of scarves pictured in London of the English soccer Premier League teams Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, who announced in a joint statement they are to join a new European Super League. Picture date: Monday April 19, 2021. 3:01
Clubs being kicked out of domestic competitions was a legally viable threat, according to Dr Katarina Pijetlovic, an expert in sports law at Manchester Metropolitan University

Sports law expert Dr Katarina Pijetlovic told Sky Sports:

«I doubt it will happen as politically it wouldn’t work. We’ve seen the reaction from the UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, which was to welcome these clubs with ‘open arms’. This was obviously a sign of relief from UEFA as well, even though my opinion is that the European Super League was never a legal threat to UEFA. If it had it gone through, the European Commission in the format being proposed, it would never have survived legal scrutiny.»

Sky Sports News’ Bryan Swanson:

«The Premier League are already considering what action to take against six clubs involved in European Super League plans.

«No decision has been made yet – and Sky Sports News has been told the Premier League is taking time to consider its approach.

«No date has yet been set for shareholder meeting involving all 20 clubs, following on from the meeting of the 14 not involved in the breakaway earlier this week. The Premier League also has a strategic review already ongoing.»

Would this mean the ESL can’t resurface in future?

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden says the collapse of a European Super League is a victory for the fans

Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol:

«The talk of the European Super League has been going on since the 1960s. It’s been going on for a long time, but the optimist will say that hopefully this is the end, once and for all. This has been such a fiasco that hopefully no one will try this again.

«My fear is that people will look at this and say, ‘we can learn from what these people got wrong. In the future, if we try this again, let’s learn from their mistakes’. I’m not 100 per cent sure that somebody won’t try this again in the future.

«Bear this in mind: UEFA have already listened to these clubs. These clubs have said they want more money, they’re going to give them more money from the new format of the Champions League. They’ve asked for more games, and they’re going to get more games.»

View from Man Utd: Could Woodward departure shake things up?

Gary Neville says Ed Woodward’s departure was inevitable after he resigned as the club’s executive vice-chairman amid the apparent collapse of the Super League plans

Sky Sports’ Manchester United reporter James Cooper:

Will Woodward’s departure lead to any more changes at Man Utd?

«There have already been a lot of changes at the club recently, with regards the restructuring of the football department. John Murtough has been elevated into a role as football director, we’ve seen a technical director come in in the shape of Darren Fletcher, and we’ve seen the departure of Nicky Butt. So there has been an awful lot of change.

«The question which remains from that is the person who instilled those changes is Ed Woodward, but he’s now leaving the club. He will see out his term by the end of the year.»

View from Man City: Who made the decision?

Pep Guardiola has responded to the planned formation of the European Super League, saying it would be unfair to prevent clubs from qualifying for the new tournament

Sky Sports’ Manchester City reporter Ben Ransom:

Can we expect an apology from the Man City owners?

«That’s the biggest frustration among Manchester City fans – since the announcement on Sunday, we’ve not heard anything from the club’s owners. We’ve not even had an explanation as to why they were involved in the first place, and we’ve not even heard who’s made the decision.

«There are a lot of questions for Man City fans, and they feel very hurt and let down by their club. They feel blind-sided, and having protested against the decision, the club have listened to that strength of feeling. But the fact is, we don’t know who made the decision yet. That’s the big question that hangs over the Etihad.

«There will likely be some sort of reconciliation because let’s not forget, supporters are going to be extremely relieved that this has ultimately tumbled so quickly. But given they’ve not heard anything from the top, they will be expecting a statement from the chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.»

Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke 1:44
Tim Payton from the Arsenal Supporters Trust says he remains unhappy about owner Stan Kroenke’s conduct – despite the club’s apology and withdrawal from the European Super League

Was fan pressure the sole reason City left?

«You would have to say it played a major part – but it also came from Pep Guardiola. I spoke to him yesterday, and every question in his press conference ahead of the Aston Villa game was about the breakaway to the European Super League. Guardiola is a very powerful man, intrinsically linked to the transformation of Manchester City.

«Even before he arrived, there were plans to get Pep as the manager. It was through him that the foundation of success was built, and you could tell from his answers on Tuesday that he felt completely let down. He hadn’t been told anything about the Super League project and had nothing more to offer us. It was a very difficult position for the manager to be in.

«Guardiola spoke about sport needing an element of competition. City players also came out and voiced their disapproval on Twitter. You have to feel the pressure from a lot of big voices got to the Manchester City owners, and they realised they had completely misjudged the mood.»

View from Spain: Real Madrid feel ‘betrayed’ and ‘will keep fighting’ for Super League

Real Madrid are still fighting for the European Super League, according to Spanish football journalist Alvaro Montero

Spanish football journalist Alvaro Montero, speaking before Atletico confirmed their withdrawal:

What’s happening with the Spanish clubs involved?

«There is silence from Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid, although Real believe they will keep on fighting to do this competition as soon as possible.

«It seems that it’s going to be extremely difficult for next summer, but they believe they can fight.

«Obviously it seems it’s going to be extremely difficult because they have lost a lot of power and a lot of strength after the British clubs withdrew.»

European Super League reaction
A banner left by Manchester United fans objecting to the clubs decision to join the European Super League, Sir Matt Busby Way, Manchester. Picture date: Tuesday April 20, 2021. 3:16
Kyle Walker and Ade Oladipo join the Early Kick-Off to debate the collapse of the European Super League

What was the reaction to English clubs pulling out?

«If you ask me about the reaction of the fans, the feeling here is that we believe [the English clubs] have done it properly because the romantic way of football has been defended.

«If you ask me about the clubs, especially Real Madrid, with Florentino Perez as the chairman of this and president of the Super League, the feeling is that these six clubs have betrayed what was signed and betrayed Real Madrid and Florentino Perez’s confidence and trust.

«They have got out of the competition less than 24 hours after they all together decided to sign for it and show an open letter to the whole world saying they wanted it to start as soon as possible.»

View from Italy: Juventus will be last to let go of Super League dream

Sky Italy’s Valentina Fass discusses the three Italian clubs – AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus – who were part of the original 12 European Super League members

Sky in Italy’s Valentina Fass, speaking before AC Milan and Inter Milan confirmed their withdrawals:

Are the Italian clubs going to pull out?

«Some sources have let us know that the Super League is no longer of interest to Inter Milan but there has been no official declaration yet.

«As far as AC Milan is concerned, it’s a completely different situation because AC Milan, together with Juventus, are the base of the creation of this Super League.

«So, together with Florentino Perez, they will probably be the last ones to let go.

«Yesterday, as the English teams were thinking of how to leave the Super League, Ivan Gazidis [AC Milan’s chief executive] in Italy was writing to the sponsors saying what a wonderful thing it was that the Super League had been signed.»

Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan follow all six Premier League teams in announcing their plans to leave the Super League
Image: Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan follow all six Premier League teams in announcing their plans to leave the Super League

How did fans in Italy react to the Super League announcement?

«The reaction in Italy was very different from the one you had in England.

«I think in Italy there is a bit of envy for how well the fans were organised and how they fought for their teams.

«It’s not because the fans care less, but just because the organisation of the fanbase is not the same, so they couldn’t have one voice in declaring their disgust with regards to seeing their team sold to a Super League.

«There were a lot of reactions but they were mainly on social media, there was nothing major organised, no protests, and no voice.»

Podcast Special: Fans 1-0 Not-so-Super League

High-powered, heavily-funded and years in the making, it lasted barely two days.

In a podcast special, Jasper Taylor is joined by Gerard Brand and Ron Walker to discuss the rapid break-up of the breakaway European Super League.

The panel discuss why football is more than just a business or entertainment sport, how this was a fan victory we should celebrate, and what the future holds for football.

We also hear from Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Kaveh Solhekol and Bryan Swanson on another monumental 48 hours.

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