Setting up a breakaway Super League was a “spectacular miscalculation” by Europe’s heavyweight clubs, according to a fans’ chief.
Manchester City were the first of the 12 founder members announced on Sunday night to say they had begun the process to withdraw from the controversial competition, and by 11pm they had been joined by Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham, while Chelsea were understood to be preparing to do the same.
Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, one of the key orchestrators of the breakaway, also announced he is leaving the club at the end of the year on a dramatic night.
It follows two days of condemnation from governing bodies, leagues, clubs, players, managers and supporters, and should the project collapse completely, it would appear to weaken the bargaining position of big clubs.
The threat of a breakaway has been a present danger or threat for the last 30 years, but should the project fail, as seems inevitable, that threat is hugely diminished.
Tom Greatrex, the vice-chairman of the Football Supporters’ Association, told the PA news agency: “It’s a spectacular miscalculation.
“If this was an attempt to gain leverage, I think they underestimated the collective will of those who love football, play football and are involved in football and assumed wrongly that that could be overridden by financial interests.
“The impression is that the Super League project is in terminal trouble before it’s even begun. If you ever wanted an example for how those that don’t understand or appreciate the game can be defeated and can be chastened by the collective opinion, will and action of supporters, players and managers, and all those that love football, that’s what we’ve seen over the last 24 hours.”
The Super League announcement triggered the Government to bring forward its promised fan-led review of governance in English football, which will still go ahead even if the project falls apart.
“The work that Tracey Crouch’s review is undertaking is the next step in having sensible and sustainable football for the future,” Greatrex added.
“This episode demonstrates that fans love their clubs but they’re not going to be walked over, and treated as though their views don’t matter.”
Chelsea fans protested about their club’s involvement ahead of the Premier League match against Brighton.
One Blues supporter, Dan Silver, told PA: “I’m absolutely delighted that common sense has prevailed.
“The fans being there at Stamford Bridge had an impact I believe.”