Here’s where we leave things for the night after another dramatic day in clubland:
Join us again at 6am BST when we will launch another liveblog to keep up to speed with all Wednesday’s goings on. Until then, cheerio legacy fans.
It doesn’t appear as though there will be anything else to report in the next couple of hours (what with it being 3.45am in Spain and all) so we’re going to wind down this particular blog and fire up another shiny new one a little later, in time for the morning updates.
In response to this thread about what has prompted this flurry of activity at the top of the game, Ron Stack offers the soundest of advice: follow the money.
“Although we have achieved something great by uniting across rivalries to stop the ESL, it is extremely important for the media and especially the fans not to be content with this victory,” emails PDK Strings. “We have seen how powerful our voices can be as fans if we unite together. We must continue to push for major reforms at all levels of football to make the sport fair for everyone involved and to prevent anything like this from ever happening again. I personally am very interested in a German-style 50+1 rule giving fans control of the teams. It might be too late to implement in England, but now is likely the best opportunity we will ever get to make lasting change for the better of our game.”
Frank Zelko’s email is a nice jumping off point for extending the conversation. “Would I be engaging in Q-level conspiracy theorising if I floated the idea that the Super League was just a smokescreen to allow UEFA to push through its Swiss format Champions League plans? UEFA’s proposal, after all, favours the big boys and would probably have gotten a fair bit of pushback. Now it looks completely benign.”
Absolutely, the anchoring heuristic is very much at play right now. And yes, clearly this situation has been prompted by the reforms to the Champions League. And yes, viewed from afar, the big clubs have received major concessions through their aggressive negotiating tactics.
However, I would not be of the opinion that the whole thing was an orchestrated set-up. Maybe I lack imagination?
It seems to me that one or two owners sensed a moment of weakness and overplayed their hands. Instead of celebrating a small victory in their incremental process to transform the Champions League into a Super League they are instead licking their wounds.
There will no doubt be some fascinating reporting in the coming days about how this all played out behind the scenes. Some very rich men are going to be made to look very foolish.
As for the changes to the Champions League, details can be found here.
Taking the total number of teams from 32 to 36 in the UEFA Champions League, the biggest change will see a transformation from the traditional group stage to a single league stage including all participating teams. Every club will now be guaranteed a minimum of 10 league stage games against 10 different opponents (five home games, five away) rather than the previous six matches against three teams, played on a home and away basis.
That’s the lot of football fans who support the big clubs in England. We’re not only in abusive relationships, we’re addicted to the abuse.”
Simon Hattenstone’s piece, from his perspective as a Manchester City fan, provides an excellent insight into the difficulties fans of the Super Soaraway Six now face.
Should we feel sorry for ourselves? Not really. We had the opportunity to vote with our feet, our mouths and our placards, but we didn’t. Success was too alluring. Should we fans of the big six walk away from our clubs? Yes. Will we? Who am I to say. There were plenty of times when I could have and should have, but didn’t. And the last decade on the pitch has been wonderful. But supporters can now see the price we’ve paid for success. Once, we made our clubs what they were, we paid the players’ wages; now we’re an irrelevance and an irritant.”
As Barney Ronay writes, this skirmish is unlikely to be the end of the war.
It has been heartening to feel energy, the sense of ownership, of community roused by this sudden presentation of the facts of where we are. But make no mistake this is simply a retreat, a moment of ceasefire, a phoney peace. There is a theory the amateurishness, the basic weirdness of the ESL’s proposals indicate this was never really an absolute or finished proposal in the first place, but a gambit designed to shock. What kind of super league is this anyway, with 15 teams, three of them from London? Really? What kind of owner springs this on the world, on their own employees, their own captive, loving audience, without comfort, consultation or mitigation?
When supporters are finally allowed back into stadia en masse, on their seat they should be greeted by a t-shirt emblazoned with LEGACY FAN in their team’s colours. Make it a pyramid-wide movement. Make opening day of season 2021-22 Legacy Fan Day.
Elsewhere in football’s great European pyramid, Schalke, Champions League semi-finalists a decade ago, have been relegated from the Bundesliga.
Schalke have been relegated from the Bundesliga for the first time in 33 years on Tuesday after losing 1-0 to fellow strugglers Arminia Bielefeld. The latest defeat of a miserable campaign left the league’s bottom club 13 points off the relegation play-off spot with only four matches left.
If you’ve just tuned in, a quick summary of a busy few hours.
Just a reminder that all the day’s Super League stories – and there are many – can be found here.
“It’s the money men, isn’t it?” Ron Manager had it all figured out.
With the current iteration of the ESL behaving like a Glostonian racing after a wheel of cheese, the agenda will very soon turn to an enormously challenging question: what next? Should the clubs involved still be punished? If so, how? How does “the game” protect itself from future unrest? Is this, finally, a necessary reckoning, or simply a milestone on the road to a grim, inevitable future?
At times like this, it’s worth checking in with the oracle David Goldblatt.
We have already allowed this coterie of billionaires to own and deform the game for some time. This particular circus may yet fold, but the economic and political shifts that made it possible will still be with us. Now we need to do more than call their bluff and settle for the compromise of an expanded Champions League. We must rewrite the rules, remake the institutions and reassess our role as fans – for we all, collectively, allowed them to contemplate this gambit, and to believe they could get away with it.
The Super League rump now appears to be down to Juventus and the three Spanish clubs.
“I’ve got to say that the ESL has been solid entertainment from the cradle to the grave. So much packed into such a short life,” emails Dean Kinsella.
As reported earlier this evening, Chelsea Football Club can confirm that it has begun the formal procedures for withdrawal from the group developing plans for a European Super League.
Having joined the group late last week, we have now had time to consider the matter fully and have decided that our continued participation in these plans would not be in the best interests of the Club, our supporters or the wider football community.”
An announcement from the Super League:
Given the current circumstances, we are reconsidering the appropriate steps, in order to reshape the project.”
The reputations of some of Europe’s major football powerbrokers have been shattered by this mess. We’ve already seen the announcement of Ed Woodward’s departure from Manchester United, and surely he won’t be the last of the misguided galaxy brains to be looking for different parking spots for their Bentleys in the coming months.
Will we see football’s equivalent of the reign of terror? Or will it be a sly shuffling of the deckchairs on the Titanic?
… and AC Milan too.
Inter Milan are the next club preparing their “soz. lol” media statement.
Thomas Tuchel has spoken about the impact of the ESL proving a distraction to Chelsea, following their 0-0 draw with Brighton earlier. He also added that he believes the owners of the breakaway clubs “love competition”. I’m sure that will go down well.
“The owners and presidents of the clubs know this,” Tuchel said. “They love competition. They have a passion for football. Look at your owners in the Premier League, what money they invest, what teams they built. This is also because of the owners. I would like to hear the real ideas behind it and details. I did not have details. I have not read one page of it. I trust my club. I believe the owners are about competition. They made a very competitive league.”
Hello everyone, time for a fifth and final substitution on this momentous blog. What a few days it’s been.
News and reaction to the ESL fiasco continues to roll in, and I’ll do my best to bring it to you here.
Here is how Premier League clubs announced their intention to withdraw from the European Super League, less than 48 hours after signing up:
And here’s David Conn on Boris Johnson’s role in the story:
I’ll be handing this blog over shortly; I’ll leave you with the in-no-way-amusing news that Andrea Agnelli, one of the architects behind the Super League plan, gave an exclusive interview to Corriere dello Sport, insisting the tournament would go ahead. It’s being published tomorrow, but is already out of date…
Assuming that the European Super League is now a busted flush, what happens now? Champions League reforms, increasing the group stage to 36 teams in a “Swiss style” format, were quietly rubber-stamped on Monday as the Super League backlash raged.
An eloquent statement from Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, earlier:
Here’s the moment earlier on Tuesday when reports of Chelsea’s withdrawal first broke – celebrated by protesting fans outside Stamford Bridge.
You can read all four statements – from Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United – in this handy tweet. Chelsea, the first team to bail, are yet to release an official statement.
As we await further developments, here’s Barney Ronay on a surreal evening as the Super League’s house of cards began to come down, and what happens next.
Here’s a timeline of how the European Super League fell apart in a little over 48 hours…
Evening all, this is Niall McVeigh taking over from Simon. We start with reports that Milan are withdrawing, and the entire operation could be suspended tonight. More as we get it …
I think Arsenal’s statement wins and Liverpool’s is the weakest, just behind Manchester United’s. Tottenham’s “we should like to thank all those supporters who presented their considered opinions” is the best comedy one-liner. Chelsea’s is on its way, apparently.
Here’s Manchester United’s statement:
Manchester United will not be participating in the European Super League.
We have listened carefully to the reaction from our fans, the UK government and other key stakeholders.
We remain committed to working with others across the football community to come up with sustainable solutions to the long-term challenges facing the game.
There will be no English clubs in the Super League. Arsenal’s statement (there’s a bit more on their website here):
The last few days have shown us yet again the depth of feeling our supporters around the world have for this great club and the game we love.
We needed no reminding of this but the response from supporters in recent days has given us time for further reflection and deep thought.
It was never our intention to cause such distress, however when the invitation to join the Super League came, while knowing there were no guarantees, we did not want to be left behind to ensure we protected Arsenal and its future.
As a result of listening to you and the wider football community over recent days we are withdrawing from the proposed Super League. We made a mistake, and we apologise for it.
Two of the remaining English clubs in the Super League have announced their withdrawal. Liverpool’s statement:
Liverpool Football Club can confirm that our involvement in proposed plans to form a European Super League has been discontinued. In recent days, the club has received representations from various key stakeholders, both internally and externally, and we would like to thank them for their valuable contributions.
We can confirm that we have formally commenced procedures to withdraw from the group developing proposals for a European Super League (ESL).
Chairman Daniel Levy said: “We regret the anxiety and upset caused by the ESL proposal. We 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 whilst delivering significantly increased support for the wider football pyramid.
“We believe that we should never stand still and that the sport should constantly review competitions and governance to ensure the game we all love continues to evolve and excite fans around the world.
“We should like to thank all those supporters who presented their considered opinions.”
It sounds like the Zoom call is over, as indeed is the Super League.