48 hours. That was all it took for years of planning and plotting by the so-called superclubs to go up in smoke. This was supposed to be the endgame for European football but all it lasted was two days. The backlash they received was unprecedented as the entire footballing world united to rid this evil from the game and prevent the Dirty Dozen from breaking away and keeping all the riches for themselves.
It has been a rollercoaster ride of events over the last few days and here is an in-depth timeline on the rise and unimaginable fall of the European Super League.
Sunday | 18th April 2021
The first whispers of the Super League were reported on Sunday Evening by Martyn Ziegler of the Times just as “superclubs” such as Arsenal, Real Madrid and Juventus had failed to beat the likes of Fulham, Getafe and Atalanta.
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The immediate reaction from the footballing public was loud and clear. The fans disliked it and released statements via the fan groups calling for a U-turn. The voice of opposition grew louder as time passed and various prominent figures in the game including Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville stated their displeasure.
The official cowardly announcement finally came at 4:30 am IST (11 PM GMT) with all clubs involved in the league informing their fans about their plans to break away from the current system and join the Super League.
Leading European football clubs announce new Super League competition.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 18, 2021
The League itself released their own statement stating “Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have today come together to announce they have agreed to establish a new mid-week competition, the Super League, governed by its Founding Clubs.”
Monday | 19th April 2021
The footballing world went into overdrive after the announcement was heard across the globe on Monday morning. UEFA, FIFA and all other leagues sent out statements and had emergency meetings to sort the situations. UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin labelled all the executives involved as snakes who should not be trusted.
#FCBayern says no to the Super League.
— 🏆🏆🏆FC Bayern English🏆🏆🏆 (@FCBayernEN) April 20, 2021
Threats were made to throw the teams out of the respective competitions and ban players from playing in the World Cup or European Championships. Clubs like Bayern, PSG and Dortmund played an important part by saying NO to the proposals and acting in the interest of the wider footballing community.
Leeds United’s players are wearing these ‘earn it’ shirts in the warm up before their match with Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool players won’t wear the shirts as ‘the players are not involved’. pic.twitter.com/1PiGtEvyGp
— Goal (@goal) April 19, 2021
Ahead of their game against Liverpool at Elland Road, Leeds United wore shirts during the warmup protesting the breakaway league. However, it was the LFC fans who made their voices heard in the build-up to the game with banners plastered outside Anfield lambasting the decision and protests being made outside the stadium.
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After the game, vice-captain James Milner and Patrick Bamford spoke passionately about their distaste for such a closed group competition while Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp stated he will do what he can with his owners to reverse the decision.
🗣 “It’s amazing the amount of opera that comes in to the game when somebody’s pockets are getting hurt, it’s a shame it’s not like that with racism.”
Patrick Bamford speaks openly about his thoughts on the prospect of a ‘European Super League’ pic.twitter.com/DolVMBBg7p
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) April 19, 2021
That very night, the first spokesperson behind this power-grab came out in defence of the new super league with Florentino Perez – President of Real Madrid – appearing on a late-night Spanish TV Show El Chiringuito. Perez stated that “Football has to evolve” and made sweeping claims such as “Youngsters prefer other forms of entertainment, they say the games can be very long. Maybe we have to cut them.”
Tuesday | 20th April 2021
Pep Guardiola, echoed Jurgen Klopp’s comments from the night before in his press conference in the morning. He stated this competition is not sport if success is guaranteed and it doesn’t matter if you lose.
Surprisingly, streaming services such as DAZN and Amazon also distanced them from the league, taking the moral high ground. Liverpool even lost a sponsor amongst all the commotion with watch brand Tribus dropping them for their involvement.
TRIBUS Super League Statement pic.twitter.com/zwaWDyBDMD
— TRIBUS (@TribusWatches) April 20, 2021
The remaining 14 clubs of the PL rejected the proposals of the Super League after an emergency meeting while Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated he would drop a legislative bomb on clubs who pursue this and break away from the current status quo.
— Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) April 20, 2021
One by one players from the club themselves also started to speak out against the situation they found themselves in. England players such as Jordan Henderson, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford showed real leadership and courage as they spoke out against the league despite representing some of its founders.
— Jordan Henderson (@JHenderson) April 20, 2021
All Liverpool players released statements via their social media condemning the league alongside players like Kevin De Bruyne and Hector Bellerin.
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The reaction reached a boiling point ahead of the Chelsea-Brighton game scheduled to kick off on Tuesday night at Stamford Bridge. The Chelsea faithful protested in their thousands outside of the stadium with banners and placards and at one point even prevented the Chelsea Bus to enter the stadium by blocking the entrance. Petr Cech – Chelsea’s technical performance advisor – was forced to reason with the protestors, requesting them to let the bus go in and give them time to sort the situation.
— The Away Fans (@theawayfans) April 20, 2021
And finally, one by one, the dominoes started to fall and the cracks appeared. One hour before kick-off, Chelsea were the first ones to cave as reports suggested they are drawing out proposals to withdraw from the league. They were followed by Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United and finally Liverpool who all released statements by 11 PM GMT revealing their decision to leave the league.
As a result of listening to you and the wider football community over recent days we are withdrawing from the proposed Super League.
We made a mistake, and we apologise for it.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) April 20, 2021
The first casualty of the situation was the Chief Executive of Manchester United, Ed Woodward who announced his resignation minutes after the entire proposals went nuclear.
Elsewhere in Europe, Inter Milan expressed their disinterest with the Super League in the current state leaving only 5 survivors from the original Dirty Dozen 48 hours post the announcement.
Wednesday | 21st April 2021
As the dust settled the morning after all the English clubs left the Super League, John Henry was the first owner to front the blame for this horrific coup. The Liverpool owner stated, “We heard you, I heard you and I’m sorry and I alone am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought forward over the past couple of days.”
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The grovelling train is expected to continue with owners across the country forced to explain their abhorrent actions to every stakeholder they have seemingly enraged along the way.
AC Milan, Atletico Madrid and Juventus have also announced decisions to withdraw following the English exodus on Tuesday night and now the only three clubs left standing at this moment are Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Despite the Super League project now in flames, the fight is not over yet. The European Super League may be no more, but this is not going to be the last attack on the sanctity of the footballing pyramid and the traditions of European football. There will be a power grab again sooner rather than later and things need to change as football needs to be protected from itself. There was a certain beauty in how the footballing world rallied against this situation and the fans and the sport needs to show this unity once again in the battles that lie ahead against problems such as rising prices, inflated transfer fees and most importantly, racism.
[Image Credit: Bleacher Report Football]