Agnelli admits Super League cannot go ahead after nine clubs pull out

  • Premier League six, Milan duo and Atlético bow to pressure
  • ESL had put out statement insisting proposal was sound

The European Super League founder and Juventus chairman, Andrea Agnelli, has said that the breakaway can no longer go ahead after nine clubs withdrew.

Asked whether the project could still happen after the exits, Agnelli told Reuters: “To be frank and honest no, evidently that is not the case.”

Agnelli insisted he remained convinced that European football needed to change and had no regrets about the way the breakaway attempt was made. “I remain convinced of the beauty of that project,” he said, stating it would have created the best competition in the world. “But admittedly … I mean, I don’t think that that project is now still up and running.”

The Italian claimed other clubs were ready to join the new European league before the English sides left. “I’m not going to say how many clubs contacted me in just 24 hours asking if they could join,” he said, declining to name them. “Maybe they lied, but I was contacted by a number of teams asking what they could do to join.”

Agnelli said he felt the British government’s intervention, with prime minister Boris Johnson threatening legislation to stop the breakaway, had pushed the English clubs to withdraw. “I have had speculation to that extent that if six teams would have broken away and would have threatened the EPL, politics would have seen that as an attack to Brexit and their political scheme,” he said.

“If you tell me other methods for putting together such projects … if you were to ask the authorisation of others, I don’t think you would have carried out a project like this. The relations are there, I have seen relations changing in time, some people I am quite sure that people will be open and talk to each other. I don’t think our industry is a particularly sincere, trustworthy or reliable one in general.”

Earlier, the Super League had vowed to “reshape the project” after its plans were left in tatters. Chelsea led the way on Tuesday, signalling an abrupt U-turn only 48 hours after Sunday’s bombshell announcement about the creation of the controversial league. Manchester City followed suit before Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham completed the Premier League contingent’s embarrassing volte face. On Wednesday morning, both Atlético Madrid and Internazionale signalled their exits too, before Milan joined them.

“Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due to the pressure on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations,” an ESL statement read. “Given the current circumstances, we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project, always having in mind our goals of offering fans the best experience possible while enhancing solidarity payments for the entire football community.”

Milan jumping ship leaves a third Serie A club, Juventus, and the Spanish pair of Real Madrid and Barcelona as the last standing members of the breakaway group. Juventus released a statement that did not confirm their departure but instead admitted that the project could not be “completed in the form in which it was initially conceived”, in keeping with Agnelli’s admission earlier on Wednesday.

The six Premier League clubs bailed after a furious backlash to the plan from fans, players and managers over the past two days. The UK government expressed its willingness to use legislation to derail the project, while there was also a royal intervention from Prince William.

Meanwhile, the Football Association threatened sanctions on clubs and bans for players at rebel teams, as did Uefa – the European governing body – and Fifa, its global counterpart.

Yet undeterred by the fallout, the ESL, headed by Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Pérez, said it remained committed to getting the project up and running, even though any competition that did emerge would bear little resemblance to what was originally planned.


Mike Hytner and Reuters

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
European Super League plans in tatters as English clubs, Milan pair and Atlético withdraw – as it happened
Rolling report: Look back at all the developments and reaction after all six Premier League clubs withdrew from the ESL plans

Gregg Bakowski, Michael Butler and Jonathan Howcroft

21, Apr, 2021 @4:30 PM

Article image
Pérez says Super League clubs ‘cannot leave’ as Manchester United fans protest
The Real Madrid president said ‘this project will move forward’ as United fans demand owners quit the club in Old Trafford demo

John Brewin

24, Apr, 2021 @3:45 PM

Article image
All Premier League clubs quit Super League after FA ban warning
All the Premier League clubs signed up to the European Super League withdrew hours after the FA warned that any club involved would be banned from all domestic competitions

David Hytner Andy Hunter and Jamie Jackson

20, Apr, 2021 @10:11 PM

Article image
Matildas dodge bullet as European Super League faces collapse
The Matildas appear to have dodged a bullet that threatened to prevent several key players, including captain Sam Kerr, from representing Australia at the World Cup

Mike Hytner

21, Apr, 2021 @1:39 AM

Article image
European Super League clubs promised €200m-€300m ‘welcome bonus’
JP Morgan commits €3.25bn to getting breakaway competition off the ground

Rupert Neate, Mark Sweney and Graeme Wearden

19, Apr, 2021 @3:34 PM

Article image
Punish Super League clubs for breakaway, say 60% of fans
Survey finds even supporters of the ‘big six’ feel their team should be penalised for attempting to form a separate league

Mark Townsend

24, Apr, 2021 @5:00 PM

Article image
European Super League collapsing as all six English clubs withdraw
The clubs made their U-turn after pressure from fans and government and Arsenal and Tottenham apologised to fans for their participation

Sean Ingle, Peter Walker and Nick Ames

21, Apr, 2021 @5:35 AM

Article image
Super League plan facing collapse as Premier League clubs withdraw – as it happened
All six English top-flight clubs have begun the process of withdrawing from agreements to join the European Super League

Jonathan Howcroft, Niall McVeigh, Simon Burnton, Gregg Bakowski and Daniel Harris

21, Apr, 2021 @2:00 AM

Article image
European Super League: how did the clubs get to this point?
Analysis: 12 clubs have announced they are joining the new European Super League after a weekend of frantic talks. Why?

Sean Ingle

18, Apr, 2021 @11:53 PM

Article image
European Super League: government vows to block English clubs – as it happened
It is possibly the biggest shake-up of European football in a generation. Our writers on how a dramatic day unfolded

John Brewin, Daniel Harris, Emma Kemp and Mike Hytner

19, Apr, 2021 @5:03 PM