Super League in Tatters After English and Italian Clubs, Atletico Madrid Pull Out
Chelsea FC fans protest outside Stamford Bridge against the club’s decision to join Super League (Pic: Twitter, Times of Israel).
The three Italian clubs who were involved -- Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus -- and Atletico Madrid dropped out of the Super League on Wednesday, leaving the new competition high and dry even before it started.
The move came a day after the six Premier League clubs exited the controversial breakaway competition, rendering it unviable. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur jumped ship after backlash from their supporters and warnings from football’s governing bodies and the government, which threatened with legislation to thwart them.
Atlético, following a decision by its board of directors, and Inter Milan were the first clubs to make the announcement Wednesday, followed by AC Milan. “The voices and the concerns of fans around the world have clearly been expressed about the Super League, and AC Milan must be sensitive to the voice of those who love this wonderful sport,” the Italian club said.
Juventus followed immediately, but said the plan of Super League is still on, but not immediately. “While Juventus remains convinced of the soundness of the project’s sport, commercial and legal premises, it believes that at present there are limited chances that the project be completed in the form originally conceived,” the club said. “Juventus remains committed to pursuing the creation of long-term value for the Company and the entire football industry.”
As things stand, only Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are officially involved in the project. They are yet to comment on their stance. As per reports, there is pressure within the Catalan club to give up the project with Barca skipper Gerard Piqué, outspoken as ever, tweeting that “Football belongs to the fans. Today more than ever”.
Barcelona’s presence in the new league was always on thin ice since the structure of the club is such that it had to be ratified by its general assembly.
La Liga, to start with, had campaigned vigorously against the Super League, with messaging and campaigns going on at the sidelines of scheduled league matches on Wednesday and Thursday.
On Monday, UEFA threatened to ban players from the participating teams from playing in this year’s European Championship (Euro) and next year’s FIFA World Cup. But a Madrid court later issued a preliminary ruling stopping UEFA, FIFA and its members from acting against the creation of the new league.
The Super League was intended to be a 20-team competition with 15 founding members guaranteed a spot every season and five other teams rotating in and out. The lack of relegation for the founding members raised concerns about the consequences for smaller clubs in the domestic leagues around the continent.
(With inputs from AP)
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