A whirlwind 48 hours has seen football perhaps going through one of its most dramatic and for many, traumatic episodes since its very inception.
On Sunday evening came the explosive announcement that 12 European clubs, including six from the Premier League, were set to form their own, exclusive new competition as a rival to the existing Champions League.
This was the much discussed ‘Super League’ that had clearly been in the works for a long time and looked like it was about to become a reality, with Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and for some reason, Tottenham, making up the English contingent.
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Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid would join from Spain, while Juventus, AC Milan and Inter would be Italy’s representatives.
However, if these clubs thought the announcement would be welcomed with open arms, they were badly mistaken as the fierce, relentless and almost universal backlash forced the teams involved into an embarrassing climb-down, putting the idea on ice… for now at least.
So how did we go from breakaway to break down?
Receiving the news while covering Manchester United’s win over Burnley, former Red Devils defender Gary Neville certainly wasn’t prepared to bite his tongue over the issue, calling for the would-be Premier League rebels to be kicked out of the division over their perceived treachery.
Neville’s fellow pundit and Liverpool hero Jamie Carragher was also very vocal on the matter, expressing his disgust to see his former side involved and their ‘leading role in threatening football’s competitive ideals’.
Players and fans not consulted
So, what was behind the new league? It looked as though the club owners and chairmen were the main drivers of the breakaway competition. Madrid president Florentino Perez was set to be the first chairman of the league, supported by two vice-chairmen: Juventus’ Andrea Agnelli and United’s Joel Glazer.
However, what started to become clear very early on was that the clubs involved had no consultation with either players nor fans. French champions Paris Saint Germain had reportedly rejected the chance to join the new league, and it was midfielder Ander Herrera who was among the first high profile players to speak out.
Of the Premier League sides, Thomas Tuchel was the unlucky soul to be first to speak to the media and effectively revealed he and his team were as much in the dark as everybody else.
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Meanwhile at UEFA, president Aleksander Ceferin did not mince his words when discussing the devious leaders of the breakaway, describing them as ‘snakes’ and there even came threats of bans from current European competitions, as well as preventing players from representing their national teams.
On Monday evening, Premier League champions Liverpool were in action for the first time since the news broke and were greeted at Elland Road ahead the match against Leeds by angry supporters. Leeds players even took to warming up ahead of the match in T-shirts taking a stance against the new proposals.
Jurgen Klopp was far from impressed, insisting that he and his players had no say in the decisions of the club’s owner and therefore didn’t deserve to be put in the firing line.
"I don't think it is right. They put them (the t-shirts) in our dressing room, I don't think we deserved that. I don't like the way a lot of people are talking about Liverpool," he said.
This is a fantastic football club. In this specific moment we can't blame the team for that. I take the criticism for everything, but this we have nothing to do with.
James Milner, who featured in the 1-1 draw became the first player potentially involved in the new league to voice his opinion, stating that he hoped it would happen.
Writing exclusively for Eurosport, Tony Evans expressed his dismay at the Reds’ involvement in the scheme.
The backlash continued on Tuesday morning with Arsenal legend Ian Wright slamming his former club for their part in the new league, accusing them of disrespecting the memory of former Gunners great David Rocastle.
Everton issued a hard-hitting statement, slamming their Premier League rivals, accusing them of ‘preposterous arrogance’, while former Manchester United heroes David Beckham and Eric Cantona also opposed the plans.
Madrid’s Perez was defiant however, having claimed the new idea would ‘save football’..
"Whenever there is a change, there are always people who oppose it... and we are doing this to save football at this critical moment," Perez said on the Spanish TV.
Young people are no longer interested in football. Why not? Because there are a lot of poor quality games and they are not interested, they have other platforms on which to distract themselves.
Cracks start to appear
By this stage, if the plans had any support whatsoever, they were being drowned by the voices of those who were vehemently against it. Bayern Munich released a statement revealing they had no intention of joining the rebels, a stance also held by Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund.
Cracks then began to appear from those involved. In his press conference, City boss Pep Guardiola boldly proclaimed that the idea of a closed European Super League was ‘not sport’ amid whispers his club and Chelsea were getting cold feet.
Elsewhere, Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson called an emergency meeting with fellow Premier League captains to discuss the matter, while the rest of the 14 clubs in the division announced they were ready to do whatever it took to halt the plans.
Eurosport’s Paul Parker said the Super League would ‘kill’ English football but raised doubts it would come to fruition.
Pep Guardiola still waiting to find out more Super League details
Fans take matters into their own hands
Things came to a head before Chelsea’s match against Brighton when Blues fans hit the streets, even remonstrating with club legend Petr Cech, as they angrily protested the plans. As this was going on, news started to filter through that the club were preparing to withdraw from the Super League, and before long, it was confirmed that both them and City were out.
The dominoes had begun to tumble and before the evening was out, statements from all six Premier League clubs dropped to reveal they would no longer be involved.
Appolgies from 'some' of those involved followed, and the Super League was over before it had even began, Angelli was forced to admit that his dream was all but dead, but not before the two Milan clubs and Atletico Madrid also dropped out, sealing the unpopular competition's very swift fate.
"I remain convinced of the beauty of that project," Agnelli said.
“But admittedly, I mean, I don’t think that project is now still up and running.”
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