LONDON — All six English clubs dramatically abandoned plans to join a breakaway Super League on Tuesday, threatening to implode the project by a group of elite English, Spanish and Italian clubs less than two days after it was announced.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham deserted the 12-team project amid an escalating backlash that saw the government warn of legislating to stop the breakaway competition.
Liverpool was also publicly urged to desert the Super League by its players who repeated a tweet first posted by captain Jordan Henderson.
“We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen,” Henderson tweeted. “This is our collective position.”
City was the first club to go public with its decision to leave the 12-team project, saying it “has formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League.”
Manchester United defender Luke Shaw also went against his club by tweeting his backing of the existing Champions League minutes before news broke that Chelsea would be the first club to quit the group of 12 rebels.
Kenny Dalglish, the legendary former Liverpool player and manager who is now a director of the club owned by the Boston Red Sox ownership group, seemed to also publicly oppose the plans.
“The last few days have been difficult for everyone who loves Liverpool Football Club and I really hope we do the right thing,” Dalglish tweeted.
City and Chelsea’s decision to leave the Super League came as fans protested outside the club’s Stamford Bridge stadium ahead of Tuesday’s game against Brighton and as English opposition to the scheme intensified.
“Good news that Chelsea and City have seen sense, and I urge the rest to follow swiftly,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted. “The whole ESL move shows how out-of-touch these owners are. They have completely misjudged the strength of feeling from fans, players and the whole country. Football is for the fans.
“Our fan-led review will still happen and I remain convinced of the need for reform. We must make sure this never happens again.”
The Premier League threatened to sanction the six rebel clubs and Prime Minister Boris Johnson considered introducing laws to stop them forming a new European competition he called a “cartel.”
Divisions within the Super League clubs also grew with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola saying the Super League would damage the integrity and values of sport. Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has also expressed concerns about the actions of his club’s owners.
The Premier League had threatened the six Super League clubs with expulsion if they go it alone in Europe. The other 14 clubs met on Tuesday and “unanimously and vigorously” rejected the Super League plans.