Withdrawal reports from Soccer-Chelsea and Man City as the Super League goes to court
© Reuters. 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress
By Simon Evans
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Premier League clubs Chelsea and Manchester City are reportedly preparing the paperwork for withdrawing from the breakaway European Super League less than 72 hours after agreeing to join.
Just before the BBC reported that the two English clubs would be eliminated from the breakaway competition, the new league went to court in Spain to prevent football authorities from foiling their plans.
Chelsea and City were among 12 teams who announced on Sunday that they would set up a rival for the UEFA Champions League with no annual qualification required.
The announcement has sparked a wave of opposition within the game, the political world and public opinion, particularly in England.
News that Chelsea, owned by Russian Roman Abramovich, were taking steps to back off the plan was wildly celebrated by Chelsea fans who protested Brighton and Hove Albion behind closed doors ahead of their team’s Premier League game .
Neither Chelsea, Manchester City nor the Super League organization immediately responded to a request for comment.
The move came shortly after the Super League won a preliminary ruling from a Madrid court to prevent the European football association UEFA and the global governing body of sport, FIFA, from imposing sanctions to stop the new formation.
The company, created to run the new league, is headquartered in Madrid and Real Madrid’s President Florentino Perez is the league’s first chairman.
The court said in a ruling seen by Reuters that FIFA, UEFA and all of their associated associations “must not take any action that in any way prohibits, restricts, restricts or in any way the formation of the Super League”.
It was not immediately clear what authority the Madrid court, which settles corporate disputes, had over Switzerland-based football associations, and a source close to UEFA said the organization was “relaxed” about the ruling.
The Super League had hoped that a mix of defensive litigation and dynamism would lead football authorities to accept their new competition within the game.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the clubs cannot be “half in, half out” of the established framework.
UEFA has threatened to ban the 12 clubs, including Manchester United and Real Madrid, from domestic and international competition, with Infantino adding his voice to the backlash.
“We strongly oppose it … if some go their own way they will have to live with the consequences of their choice, either you are in or you are out. You cannot be half in and half out,” Infantino told UEFA -Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.
The scale of the upheaval has led political leaders across Europe to speak out and, in some cases, threaten to intervene.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his administration would consider passing laws to stop the escape and liken the plans to creating a cartel.
Johnson held a meeting with representatives from the Football Association, Premier League and fan groups where he confirmed the government would not be ready to allow a closed deal to be created.
“In order to protect this principle of competition, we will, as I have already said, seek the legislative solution from the agencies earlier.”
Amid ongoing convictions and threats, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin offered the renegade dozen an olive branch and urged them to “think again”.
The Super League argues it would increase revenue to the top clubs and allow them to distribute more money to the rest of the game.
However, the governing bodies of the sport, other teams and fan organizations say this will increase the power and wealth of the elite clubs and the league’s closed structure goes against the longstanding model of European football.
In contrast to Europe’s current elite Champions League competition, in which the teams have to qualify through their domestic league, the founding Super League teams would secure a place in the new competition every year.
England’s “Big Six” – Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal – have come under fire from their domestic rivals for their involvement, and Everton accused them of absurd arrogance.
The English Premier League said it had “unanimously and vigorously” rejected the plans.
After meeting the 14 non-participating clubs, she said she was considering “all available measures” to stop the new competition.
The German Football Association (DFB) went one step further and demanded the suspension of the 12 founding clubs until they think twice.
“The clubs and their youth teams should be excluded from all competitions until they think of their many fans who have made them the top clubs in the world, and not just of their wallets,” said DFB President Fritz Keller on the official DFB Twitter Account.
In addition to the “Big Six” from England and Real, the Italian clubs Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan as well as the Spaniards Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have registered.
UEFA boss Ceferin accused the breakaway dozen of contempt for smaller clubs, but the Slovenian insisted there was still time for reconciliation.
“I would like to address to the owners of some English clubs. Gentlemen, you made a big mistake,” he said. “Some will say it’s greed, others contempt, arrogance or a complete ignorance of English football culture, but it really doesn’t matter.”
“What matters is that there is still time to change your mind, everyone makes mistakes, English fans deserve you to correct your mistake, they deserve respect.”
At the UEFA Congress, Ceferin thanked the President of Paris St. Germain, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, whose club was not one of the participants in the runaway.
Portuguese giants Benfica also issued a statement denying they are in discussions to join the plan and rejecting it.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was open about his opinion on the proposed league.
“It’s not a sport where there is no balance between effort and success,” he said, while the people behind it were required to provide more information.
“It’s not a sport where success is guaranteed or where it doesn’t matter where you lose.”
Despite the general wave of criticism, the instigators continued to argue that the runaway was good for football.
In a letter to the club’s trading partners, AC Milan General Manager Ivan Gazidis said: “We are confident that this new competition will spark the imagination of billions of football fans around the world and mark a new and exciting chapter for the game. “”