English Soccer Clubs Withdraw from Proposed European Super League After Anger from Fans and Government

Ashley Boucher
·4 min read

Fans gather to protest the introduction of the European Super League on April 20, 2021 in London

Six English soccer clubs have announced their withdrawal from the proposed European Super League after fans expressed anger in the days since the announcement Sunday.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur confirmed Tuesday that they will withdraw from the controversial ESL, ESPN reported.

The announcement of the ESL came on Sunday with a press release from 12 of Europe's wealthiest clubs: the six English clubs listed above, as well as AC Milan, Atlético de Madrid, FC Barcelona, FC Internazionale Milano, Juventus FC and Real Madrid.

Essentially, the proposed league would upend the way soccer in Europe currently functions, making it much more difficult for the less-wealthy teams to survive without the top money-makers.

Fans gather to protest the introduction of the European Super League on April 20, 2021 in London

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Soccer fans around the world quickly expressed anger and frustration at the idea of the ESL — fans even took to the streets Tuesday to protest. The U.K., Italian and Spanish governments also condemned the ESL.

"Plans for a European Super League would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action. They would strike at the heart of the domestic game, and will concern fans across the country," U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet Sunday. "The clubs involved must answer to their fans and the wider footballing community before taking any further steps."

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Further, the ESL announcement came just one day before the UEFA Champions League was set to meet to finalize its new structure, of which several of the aforementioned top clubs were a part. Despite Sunday's bombshell news, the UEFA still voted on changes Monday that will take effect at the beginning of the 2024-2025 season, ESPN reported.

"Manchester City Football Club can confirm that it has formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League," the club said in a statement Tuesday.

Fans gather to protest the introduction of the European Super League on April 20, 2021 in London

In its statement announcing that it will not participate in the ESL, Manchester United said "we have listened carefully to the reaction from our fans, the UK government and other key stakeholders," and that the club remains "committed to working with others across the football community to come up with sustainable solutions to the long-term challenges facing the game."

The Arsenal Board similarly shared in its statement that it "was never our intention to cause such distress" to fans, "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."

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Chelsea and Liverpool also issued statements confirming their departure from the proposed ESL.

Whether or not the six English teams' withdrawal will have an impact on the remaining Spanish and Italian clubs' participation remains to be seen.

According to ESPN, Barcelona's participation in the ESL is contingent on agreement from the players.

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In a previous statement, the UEFA said that the breakaway league was "an affront to European values and sporting merit for them to assume they are entitled to 'separate' and lay claim to the legacy that everyone built," Variety reported. After news of the English teams' decisions to withdraw, the organization's president, Aleksander Ceferin, said: "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."

On Tuesday, Johnson also shared another statement applauding the clubs' decision.

"The decision by Chelsea and Manchester City is – if confirmed – absolutely the right one and I commend them for it," he tweeted before the clubs had issued statements. "I hope the other clubs involved in the European Super League will follow their lead."