Plans for the European Super League are crumbling with Chelsea, Manchester City, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid all reportedly preparing to withdraw from the breakaway competition.
The Premier League duo are two of ‘Big Six’ English clubs to sign up to the exclusive league, announcing their intentions to join alongside Man United, Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal, AC Milan, Inter, Juventus and Spanish club Real Madrid.
Just moments after news of Chelsea’s desire to withdraw emerged, The Sun reported that Manchester City are also looking to leave the £4.6bn scheme. Over in Spain, reports have emerged that Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are also pulling out.
And reports soon followed that Manchester United chief executive Ed Woodward had resigned due to the severe backlash over the planned breakaway.
Chelsea supporters protested on Tuesday night before news of the club’s withdrawal emerged
Plans for a European Super League are crumbling with Chelsea, Manchester City, Barcelona and Atletico preparing to withdraw from the breakaway competition
The Spanish duo’s involvement in the breakaway league is in question amid reports in Spain
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is understood to have driven the decision, having listened to fan protests and opted to withdraw from the new European league plans.
Abramovich’s motivations are thought never to have been about money, and the Blues are now understood to be preparing documents to withdraw formally from the competition.
Stamford Bridge chiefs were only thought to have signed up as a founder member of the Super League in order not to be left behind by the rogue breakaway.
The pair are two of six Premier League clubs to have signed up for the breakaway league
However, amid huge backlash from the world of football, the pair are reportedly backing out
Supporters gathered at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday in protest of the European Super League
But after resounding condemnation from across the political and sporting spectrum, Chelsea appear to have now decided to pull out of the competition – less than 48 hours after it was announced.
Chelsea fans congregated outside Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night ahead of their Premier League game against Brighton to protest against the breakaway league.
Blues fans unfurled banners criticising the club for their decision to join the controversial Super League and called on Abramovich to ‘do the right thing’.
Scores of fans chanted, let off blue smoke bombs and marched around the west London ground, with police attempting to control the crowds.
Sportsmail understands that Chelsea had set the wheels in motion to withdraw earlier today, and that their decision to leave was not a response to the mass protests outside the ground.
Reports also suggested that Chelsea’s technical and performance director, Petr Cech, visibly shocked by the protests, went out to speak to some of the fans. Cech was reported as responding to fans, saying: ‘Give everybody time.’
The former Chelsea goalkeeper was also seen urging supporters to allow the team bus through the crowds and to the ground.
Many supporters chose to sit in protest with a group singing: ‘If you love football sit down’
The news comes after Sportsmail’s Oliver Holt first reported on Monday night that two unnamed Premier League clubs were beginning to get cold feet over the plans to form a breakaway league, such was the extent of the backlash from fans and pundits.
City boss Pep Guardiola revealed concern over the new competition on Tuesday, insisting that it ‘is not sport’ in response to the protection afforded to the 12 clubs plus three newcomers from relegation.
‘It is not a sport where the relation between effort and success does not exist,’ he said. ‘It is not a sport where success is already guaranteed or it doesn’t matter where you lose.
‘It is not fair when one team fight, fight, fight at the top and cannot be qualified because it is just for a few teams.
‘The right people have the obligation, the duty, to clarify as soon as possible, clarify all around the world why these teams play and the others not. Ajax – with four Champions Leagues – why they are not there?
‘Everyone makes (decisions for their) own interest. The Premier League looks at his interest, UEFA looks at his. To arrive in that point, Uefa have failed. They have to communicate and be in touch before.’
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has been the driving force behind the new competition, alongside Arsenal’s Stan Kroenke, United’s Joel Glazer and Liverpool’s John W Henry.
However, Perez’s counterpart Joan Laporta, president of Barcelona, said that his club would not join until it was approved by their fans.
‘Barcelona will not join the Super League until our fans vote for it. It’s their club, so it’s their decision,’ Laporta said via Transfer News Live.
Perez had claimed that all twelve clubs have signed contracts to join the league that would ‘save football’, with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin left aghast by the scheme to dramatically change the football landscape forever.