London (AFP) – Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham joined Manchester City in withdrawing from proposals for a European Super League (ESL) on Tuesday as the controversial plan collapsed amid a furious backlash.
Chelsea are reportedly set to follow leaving just six sides: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus still involved in the project.
Reaction to the plans has been scathing, with politicians and football authorities threatening to take legal action against the so-called “dirty dozen”, who were told they faced potential bans from domestic and continental competitions.
“Manchester United will not be participating in the European Super League,” the 20-time English champions said in a statement.
“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.”
United also announced on Tuesday that executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward will leave his role by the end of the year.
The 20-team ESL was designed by the European giants to guarantee revenue from regular matches against one another without the risk of failing to qualify for 15 founder members.
However, the plan was fiercely criticised by even their own players and managers for acting as a closed shop.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson posted his disapproval of the plans on behalf of the squad on Twitter.
In a statement, Liverpool said: “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.”
Arsenal went further by apologising to supporters for misjudging the move to sign up to proposals.
“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,” the Gunners said in a statement.
“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.”
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