LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 20: Fans hold banners against Chelsea signing up for the newly proposed European Super League ahead of the Premier League game between Chelsea and Brighton & Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge on April 20, 2021 in London, England .
Chloe Knott – Danehouse | Getty Images Sports | Getty Images
LONDON – Plans for a breakaway elite football league in Europe have already disintegrated after widespread criticism and even threats of government interference.
The European Super League announced on Sunday is intended to keep up with the UEFA Champions League format, which is currently Europe’s best annual club competition.
Twelve of the richest teams in Europe signed up to be founding members of the new league, and JPMorgan backed them with $ 6 billion in debt funding.
However, the move sparked outrage from lawmakers, governing bodies, former players, fans, managers and experts, and many were concerned about the impact it would have on the structure of national competitions.
Many see it as a cynical and highly controversial project as the permanent members of the league could not be relegated.
Chelsea were the first club to signal Tuesday night that it was a jump ship. Fans protested the plans in front of the stadium in west London ahead of a Premier League match. Manchester City quickly followed suit with official confirmation of their withdrawal, and a few hours later England’s other four clubs withdrew.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin condemned the project and called it a “spit in the face” of all football fans. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to “thwart” it and likened it to a “cartel”.
The teams that initially agreed to play in the ESL included:
- England: Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal.
- Spain: Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
- Italy: Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.
On Monday evening, European Super League chairman Florentino Perez said plans to form the new runaway elite competition were designed to “save football”.
He defended himself against widespread criticism by claiming that changes were necessary because young people were “no longer interested in the sport”.
– CNBC’s Sam Shead and Sam Meredith contributed to this article.