European Super League: Manchester City withdraw as breakaway lurches close to collapse

By Sports Desk April 20, 2021

Manchester City have confirmed their withdrawal from the proposed European Super League, leaving the controversial tournament in tatters within 48 hours of being announced.

Condemnation of the project, which drew the ire of fans, players, coaches, federations and national governments, was near universal following Sunday's rollout, which detailed how the Premier League's 'big six' would be founder members of the Super League alongside Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Milan and Inter.

The closed-shop element of the league was noted as being contrary to European football's traditions of fair competition – an observation made by City manager Pep Guardiola on Tuesday, among many others.

Speculation mounted as a dramatic day progressed, with Chelsea also thought to be ready to pull the plug.

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward resigned from his post, although the club claim this decision is not directly related to the apparently doomed Super League project.

Stats Perform News understands Woodward has brought forward the announcement of a planned exit at the end of this year due to the likelihood of leaks.

A short statement issued from the other side of town read: "Manchester City Football Club can confirm that it has formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League."

Moments after City confirmed their withdrawal, a statement from UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin welcomed the Champions League semi-finalists "back into the European football family".

"They have shown great intelligence in listening to the many voices – most notably their fans – that have spelled out the vital benefits that the current system has for the whole of European football; from the world-beating Champions League final right down to a young player's first coaching session at a grassroots club," Ceferin said.

"As I said at the UEFA Congress, it takes courage to admit a mistake but I have never doubted that they had the ability and common sense to make that decision.

"City are a real asset for the game and I am delighted to be working with them for a better future for the European game."

Speaking earlier on Tuesday, ostensibly to preview his team's Premier League trip to Aston Villa, Guardiola become the first person associated with City to speak publicly about the matter of the European Super League and left little doubt where he stood on a concept he described as an affront to sporting competition.

"Sport is not a sport when the relation between the effort and reward doesn't exist," he said.

"It's not sport when success is guaranteed, when it doesn't matter if you lose. I want the best competitions as strong as possible. In this statement, it's what I feel. This is not sport."

As cracks began to appear in the Super League project, City's star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne echoed his manager's sentiments in a Twitter statement.

"I have worked and competed against everybody trying to win the ultimate. But the most important word in this is COMPETING," he wrote.

"With all events that have been happening the last few days maybe this is the good moment for everybody to come together and try the work for a solution.

"We know this is a big business and I know I am part of this business. But still I am a little boy who just loves to play football. It's not about a certain entity in this case, it's about football over the whole world.

"Let's keep inspiring the next generation of footballers and keep the fans dreaming."

After City confirmed their exit, De Bruyne's team-mate Raheem Sterling simply tweeted: "Ok bye".

The farewells look set to keep piling up for this ill-conceived attempt to reshape European football.

A statement issued by the FA praised the role of fan pressure in helping to bring about the U-turn.

"We welcome the news that some of the clubs have decided to abandon plans for the European Super League, which threatened the whole football pyramid," it read.

"English football has a proud history based on opportunity for all clubs and the game has been unanimous in its disapproval of a closed league. It was a proposition that, by design, could have divided our game; but instead, it has unified us all.

"We would like to thank the fans in particular for their influence and unequivocal voice during this time, holding true the guiding principles of football. It is a powerful reminder that the game is, and always will be, for the fans."

Related items

  • Guardiola hails 'exceptional' Kane after Tottenham striker breaks Greaves record Guardiola hails 'exceptional' Kane after Tottenham striker breaks Greaves record

    Pep Guardiola congratulated the "exceptional" Harry Kane after his record-breaking strike for Tottenham downed Manchester City on Sunday.

    City head coach Guardiola has been a long-time admirer of England star Kane, trying and failing to bring the striker to Manchester ahead of the 2021-22 season.

    The former Bayern Munich and Barcelona boss labelled Spurs as the "Harry Kane team" back in 2017, with his reference to Tottenham's reliance on their talisman irking then-coach Mauricio Pochettino.

    Guardiola opted to not repeat that back-handed compliment this time around at the risk of infuriating Pochettino, but offered his congratulations after Kane surpassed Jimmy Greaves' 266-goal Spurs record.

    "I'm not going to say the Harry Kane team otherwise Poch will be grumpy with me and I don't want that," Guardiola told reporters at his post-match press conference. 

    "On behalf of Man City, I can say congrats on this incredible milestone. He's an exceptional player."

    While Kane broke the all-time scoring record for Tottenham, he also joined Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney in an illustrious club of men to score 200 Premier League goals.

    A memorable outing for Kane was improved by Spurs holding on for a narrow 1-0 win that moved them within one point of fourth-placed Newcastle United and kept City trailing leaders Arsenal by five.

    City overturned a two-goal deficit to secure a 4-2 home victory over Tottenham just last month, but Guardiola acknowledged a "different" challenge at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

    "Two weeks ago we were able to come back from a more difficult result. Just 1-0 this time but different with the stadium and the interruptions," he added.

    "We started really well in the first 15 minutes until the goal we conceded. After that we played a good first half, the second half was not as good.

    "There were too many interruptions and we cannot control. We had our chances against a team that defend very well."

    It marked a fourth straight away league defeat for Guardiola's side at Spurs, with City failing to score in each of those visits for just the third time in the Premier League against a single opponent.

    Guardiola has lost all five games at Spurs' new home ground across all competitions, the most he has managed at one away venue without winning in his career.

    He was unable to explain why, adding: "They defend with nine players really well. The squad is fantastic.

    "I think we always play really well against them but for whatever reason, we cannot seem to win or score goals."

  • Kane lauded as 'greatest of all time' by Tottenham stand-in coach Stellini Kane lauded as 'greatest of all time' by Tottenham stand-in coach Stellini

    Harry Kane was lauded as the greatest of all time after his record-breaking strike against Manchester City.

    The England captain moved past Jimmy Greaves' Tottenham scoring record with his 267th goal for the London club on Sunday.

    His calm 15th-minute finish proved the difference in a 1-0 win over City as Kane joined Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney as the only men to score 200 Premier League goals.

    Spurs talisman Kane achieved the feat in two games fewer than Shearer (306), while Rooney needed 462 to hit a double century, and coach Cristian Stellini believes no player compares to the 29-year-old.

    "Harry Kane, in his DNA, he has football. He understands football in every moment," Stellini, standing in for Antonio Conte after the Tottenham head coach underwent gallbladder surgery, told Sky Sports.

    "He can play in any position. He is the GOAT [greatest of all time] in this league, in this sport. He is a great example."

    A narrow victory, in which Cristian Romero saw a late red card for two cautions, moved Spurs within one point of fourth-placed Newcastle United, having played a game more.

    Videos emerged after the game of Conte congratulating the record-setting Kane, as Stellini hailed a battling performance in the absence of the Italian.

    He added: "It was a tough week and we have to give a great compliment to all the players and the staff.

    "It was a tough week because we lost Antonio, hopefully he'll be back next week. He'll be back happy now. I spoke to him on the phone just now and he said congratulations to the team and especially Harry.

    "The key was the capacity to suffer when City has the ball. We know when we play against this team we have to suffer because they have the ball a lot, but we moved well in the defensive situation and defended the goal in a brilliant way.

    "We knew very well that in that game [the 4-2 defeat to City last month] we lost our key – our capacity to suffer. We lost that last time, we spoke about that situation and that we had to be angry, motivated.

    "To reach our target, we have to suffer more, to fight. When you are winning against City, they can play with great pace. You have to be strong and we controlled the space very well."

  • City can't think about being champions after Spurs loss - Guardiola City can't think about being champions after Spurs loss - Guardiola

    Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are "not in the position to think about being champions" after they were beaten 1-0 at Tottenham on Sunday.

    Harry Kane became Spurs' all-time top scorer with the only goal of the game, striking a blow to City's chances of retaining the title and doing fierce rivals Arsenal a big favour.

    A day after the table-topping Gunners slipped to a shock loss against Everton, City were unable to capitalise and trail Mikel Arteta's side – who have a game in hand – by five points.

    City boss Guardiola told Sky Sports: "We are not in the position to think about being champions. [We can only think about] the next game.

    "Tottenham have a fantastic team, and they punish you. They have a lot of quality up front. [We must] give a lot of credit to them.

    "We started really well, but after we made a mistake, they punished us. At 1-0 down, it is different. It is not easy. We dropped three points.W

    It was a fifth loss from as many visits to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for City, who have also failed to score in any of their trips to the ground.

    Guardiola said of that record: "Sooner or later, it is going to change, but it is strange we haven't scored one goal.

    "To find an explanation is not easy. We found the positions, [we] made good balls to the channels, but [we] missed [that] last action up front."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.