Moscow: The UK’s Chelsea and Manchester City football clubs are preparing to withdraw from the European Super League (ESL), media reported on Tuesday.
On Sunday, 12 of Europe’s leading soccer clubs — AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur — officially announced the establishment of the ESL, a new European club football tournament.
According to BBC Sports and the Guardian newspaper, other clubs are also about to pull out of the league. At the same time, the Talksport radio broadcaster reported, citing sources, that the ESL tournament had been called off and that all 12 clubs would meet on Tuesday night to discuss dropping their Super League plans.
In the meantime, as many as 1,000 football fans gathered outside Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium to protest the club’s ESL ambitions ahead of a Tuesday match with Brighton.
The new Super League includes 20 teams — the 15 founders, and another 5 teams qualified for the tournament every year in accordance with their achievements in the prior season. According to the official statement, the Super League will help clubs overcome the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it showed the importance of “a strategic vision and a sustainable commercial approach” to maintain the European football system.
The announcement was met with widespread criticism not only from the FIFA and UEFA leaderships, as well as the national football associations of European states, but also from political leaders such as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who took to Twitter on Sunday evening to voice his opposition.