English football's so-called 'big six' have confirmed their intention to pull out of the proposed European Super League.
Manchester City became the first team to quit the controversial project on Tuesday evening and were later followed by Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal while it is also understood that Chelsea have also begun proceedings to withdraw from the breakaway competition.
It capped a remarkable evening of developments in the saga which also saw United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward resign.
A statement from the Arsenal board, published on www.arsenal.com, confirmed their exit. Club officials said: "We made a mistake, and we apologise for it."
As a result of listening to you and the wider football community over recent days we are withdrawing from the proposed Super League.— Arsenal (@Arsenal) April 20, 2021
We made a mistake, and we apologise for it.
The statement read: "The last few days have shown us yet again the depth of feeling our supporters around the world have for this great club and the game we love. We needed no reminding of this but the response from supporters in recent days has given us time for further reflection and deep thought. It was never our intention to cause such distress, however when the invitation to join the Super League came, while knowing there were no guarantees, we did not want to be left behind to ensure we protected Arsenal and its future.
"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.
"We know it will take time to restore your faith in what we are trying to achieve here at Arsenal but let us be clear that the decision to be part of the Super League was driven by our desire to protect Arsenal, the club you love, and to support the game you love through greater solidarity and financial stability.
"Stability is essential for the game to prosper and we will continue to strive to bring the security the game needs to move forward. The system needs to be fixed. We must work together to find solutions which protect the future of the game and harness the extraordinary power football has to get us on the edge of our seats.
Finally, we know this has been hugely unsettling at the end of what has been an incredibly difficult year for us all.
Our aim is always to make the right decisions for this great football club, to protect it for the future and to take us forward. We didn’t make the right decision here, which we fully accept.
We have heard you.
The Arsenal Board."
Football in this country will always be the biggest sporting institution in the world. I’ve played in all 4 divisions and no matter which club I have represented I have always seen how passionate THE FANS are here. The love of the game will always prevail. 👏⚽️💚— John Egan (@JohnEgan92) April 20, 2021
The clubs were part of a group, which contained Spain's Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid and Italy's AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus, which announced plans to form the breakaway league. But the proposal was slammed by UEFA, FIFA, players and fans in a tumultuous 48 hours for the sport.
A Liverpool statement tonight noted that: "Liverpool Football Club can confirm that our involvement in proposed plans to form a European Super League has been discontinued. In recent days, the club has received representations from various key stakeholders, both internally and externally, and we would like to thank them for their valuable contributions."
Earlier in the evening Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said on social media his side's "collective position" is they do not want the Super League to take place. "We don't like it and we don't want it to happen," read a message that was also posted by many fellow Liverpool players.
Liverpool's counterparts at Manchester United issued an equally brief statement confirming their exit from the project. "Manchester United will not be participating in the European Super League. We have listened carefully to the reaction from our fans, the UK government and other key stakeholders. We remain committed to working with others across the football community to come up with sustainable solutions to the long-term challenges facing the game."
Manchester City issued a one line statement to confirm "that it has formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League."
The people’s game, saved by the people. https://t.co/g8Z737UepI— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) April 20, 2021
Tottenham chairman Dan Levy expressed regret for the 'anxiety and upset' caused by the proposal.
A club statement issued at 11pm confirmed that the London club "have formally commenced procedures to withdraw from the group developing proposals for a European Super League (ESL)."
Mr Levy said: “We regret the anxiety and upset caused by the ESL proposal. We felt it was important that our club participated in the development of a possible new structure that sought to better ensure financial fair play and financial sustainability whilst delivering significantly increased support for the wider football pyramid. We believe that we should never stand still and that the sport should constantly review competitions and governance to ensure the game we all love continues to evolve and excite fans around the world. We should like to thank all those supporters who presented their considered opinions.”
Chelsea had not issued a statement at the time of publication though wire agencies report that they to are quitting the ESL.
Earlier in the evening Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who was involved in the Super League discussions, announced he will step down from his role at the end of 2021.
All six Premier League teams involved in the European Super League have formally withdrawn from the competition.— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) April 20, 2021
This is what each club said in their statements...#bbcfootball