England boss Eddie Jones says he would love to swap codes and take up an NRL head coach position, but admits the likelihood of a move to rugby league is small.

The Australian spent time following his side's tour victory over the Wallabies visiting leading sports clubs across the country, including NRL premiers Penrith and AFL duo Melbourne and Carlton.

Jones has his focus on taking England one step further than their silver-medal finish at the Japan 2019 World Cup next year when he leads them to France 2023.

But beyond that, his future is unclear, and the veteran admits he would be delighted to get the chance to chance his arm in league's biggest domestic competition, particularly with boyhood club South Sydney Rabbitohs.

"I like the game," Jones told Nine. "If there was an opportunity there [in the NRL] I would jump at it, but the reality is it’s probably not going to be there."

Jones' admiration for the rival code comes at a time when a proliferation of great union successes have been guided by former league stalwarts.

Ex-Wigan forward Andy Farrell guided Ireland to a first-ever series win in New Zealand against the All Blacks earlier this month, while ex-Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield was instrumental in Leicester's Premiership triumph too.

Shaun Edwards has helped revolutionise France's defence under Fabien Galthie, and Jones' own assistant, the former Souths head coach Anthony Seibold, has been an ace in their revival this summer against the Wallabies.

It is the Rabbitohs the 62-year-old grew up as a fan of, and asked if he would be tempted by the top job at Redfern, he admitted: "That would be the dream team. That would be the dream.

"From the age of five, I’ve supported Souths. That would be fantastic [to coach the Rabbitohs]. I loved the old teams with Ronnie Coote, Bob McCarthy, John Sattler and Eric Simms. 100 per cent [I'd take the job]."

Souths are currently led by former assistant Jason Demetriou, who succeeded veteran coach Wayne Bennett at the end of last year, and currently lie sixth on the NRL ladder as they push for the playoffs.

Kylian Mbappe decided to stay at Paris Saint-Germain due to the club's "project" and rejected a more lucrative offer from Real Madrid, according to the Parisians' president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

Al-Khelaifi also hit out at suggestions Mbappe possesses undue influence in footballing decisions at the club in an explosive interview with Marca, as well as labelling La Liga "dead" and claiming to never have heard of the league's president Javier Tebas.

Mbappe was widely expected to join Madrid upon the expiry of his contract in Paris this month, but committed his future to PSG until 2025 in a shock decision in May.

That decision sparked fury in Spain, with Madrid president Florentino Perez claiming the striker "must already be sorry" for snubbing the European champions, and LaLiga chief Tebas accusing the French club of trying to "destroy" European football in a complaint to UEFA over supposed financial fair play breaches.

But Al-Khelaifi says Mbappe's choice was never about money, and even claims to have known the 2018 World Cup winner wanted to stay long before the end of last season.

"I have great respect for Real Madrid as a club, they're a great club, but Kylian has never decided to renew for the money, that's the first thing. Madrid's offer was better than ours," he said.

"He is our player and he had other clubs in England as well as Madrid, but he chose PSG, and we didn't talk to him or his family about money until the last moment. 

"Kylian was above all interested in the project, in football and sport. He is Parisian, he is French, and he wanted to stay here to represent his city and his country, his club, and it is not fair what has been said about him."

The PSG chief rejected huge bids for the striker before last season and says he did so in the knowledge he would decide to renew: "I knew 18 months ago that Mbappe wanted to stay. I heard that Madrid said he wanted to play for Madrid, but it wasn't true. 

"We are talking now about Madrid's latest offer, but in the summer [of 2021] they made an offer of €170million and 180million. That means that Madrid's offer, plus his salary, was already better than ours, as it is now. 

"I turned down 180 and they told me I was crazy, people I trusted, because he could leave for free, but I did it because I was sure Kylian was going to stay because I know him and his family well. I know what he wants. 

"Kylian is very serious, professional, and he wants to play and win, he doesn't care about money. I understand that Madrid are disappointed, but it's not fair to say that about Mbappe."

LaLiga have complained about the spending of both Manchester City and PSG to UEFA, claiming a need to keep European competition "clean".

But Al-Khelaifi is not worried about accusations of overspending, as he labelled the Spanish top flight "dead" and said last year's signing of Lionel Messi demonstrated PSG's ability to invest and stay within the rules.

"Who is Tebas? I don't know that person," he claimed. "Our style is not to interfere in the affairs of other clubs, other leagues or federations, it is not our style. But I am not going to accept that others give us lessons. 

"I don't care what he says, the truth is, we have been talking about this for years. We have a football project to build, and we are going to go ahead. We're not worried about everything that comes out in the media, because we can't waste our time with everything that comes out.

"Every year, every summer, it's the same thing. He says we don't respect the fair play, we don't respect the others? We know what we can do, who we can sign, we know better than him what we can do and nobody has to tell us what to do. 

"We don't have to be told by someone from outside what we can or cannot do. If we do it, it's because we can. Look at the case of Messi. It was the same, they said it was financially impossible, and we have made money with Messi. 

"He has no idea and he should focus on his league because La Liga is a bit dead."

Al-Khelaifi, who also serves as chairman of the European Club Association (ECA), could not resist taking another swipe at Madrid over their continued support for the European Super League, which failed spectacularly upon its attempted launch last year.

Madrid, along with Barcelona and Juventus, are still committed to the breakaway project, and Al-Khelaifi says their jubilation at winning the Champions League last month is strange in that context.

"For me it [the Super League] is already dead," he said. "But it's also strange. Madrid have won the Champions League and deservedly so, but on the one hand they want to win it and on the other hand they don't want to play it. 

"If you're not happy you don't need to play it. It's the best competition in the world and I don't even know why the Spanish fans are also against this competition, but for me the Super League is dead."

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has insisted his hopes for a European Super League are still alive on Wednesday, with the judicial process still ongoing.

Perez has historically been a leading figure in calls for Europe's elite football clubs to secede from UEFA competitions, and was the chairman of last year's proposed breakaway competition.

It collapsed on the back of shaky alliances between clubs as well as political and public pressure, with each of the five aligned Premier League clubs withdrawing from the Super League in the days following an announcement to secede.

Speaking on the El Chiringuito programme, the Real Madrid president branded European football's current structure a "monopoly" for UEFA's gain and revealed plans to eventually break away from the rest of European football have not formally been suppressed.

"Of course it is still alive, right now there is a question raised in the Luxembourg Court, there will be a hearing shortly and it will rule on the issues we have raised," Perez said. "We believe that we have the right, within the European Community, to organise competitions between us, with UEFA.

"We understand that UEFA is a monopoly and in this Europe of 27 [EU member states] a pillar is that of competition."

On whether he was afraid that Madrid would be banned from the Champions League after UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin's threat to expel aligned clubs from UEFA competitions, he added: "We have never had that fear, and that was when they said it at the beginning.

"No, we want to win the Champions League. PSG is not our enemy. Neither Chelsea nor [Manchester] City. Everyone who competes is friends, we get along with everyone."

The 75-year-old also expressed lament over Kylian Mbappe's decision to stay with Paris Saint-Germain, believing internal pressure led to his eventual choice not to join Madrid, but reaffirmed no individual will be greater than the club.

"His dream was to play for Real Madrid, we wanted to do it last August and they didn't let him out, he kept saying he wanted to play for Madrid and about 15 days before the situation changed," Perez said.

"He changes, they offer him other things, they put pressure on him and he is already another footballer.

"There is no one at Real Madrid above the club. He is a great footballer, he can win more than others but it is a collective sport and we have some values ​​and principles that we can't change them. I love him, he made an effort and the pressure made him change his circumstances and it's not easy."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin says the remaining Super League clubs Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus could yet face sanctions, also insisting they are free to form their own competition if they give up their places in the Champions League.

Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus were the only three founding clubs not to renounce their backing for the widely derided Super League after the breakaway project's collapse in April 2021.

Last month, a Madrid court lifted precautionary measures preventing UEFA from punishing the trio, who have continued to voice their backing for a new competition – to be governed by its founding clubs – despite the withdrawals of the other nine founding members.

Speaking to AS, Ceferin hinted sanctions against the trio could be on the horizon and hit out at the "incredible arrogance" of the clubs.

Ceferin, who assumed his post in 2016 after succeeding Michel Platini, also said the clubs were free to do whatever they liked, but would not be allowed to participate in UEFA competitions if the venture was revived.  

"Of course it's possible [to sanction the clubs] but let's see what happens," he said. "The only 'hello' UEFA got from them came from the courts, as they tried to challenge us everywhere. 

"We never said that they couldn't play their own competition, because they can if they want. But it's funny that these were the clubs that first registered in the Champions League. 

"If they play other tournaments, they cannot play in our competitions. That is not a monopoly. They can create their own UEFA and do what they think is right. 

"I showed them a lot of respect in the past. I don't want to talk about the president of Juventus [Andrea Agnelli], but my relationship with him was very open and honest. 

"I never said this before, but I invited the president of Madrid, Florentino Perez, to Nyon before it all happened to talk about future competitions. He called off the meeting with a text message just 24 hours earlier because of 'a basketball-related event'. With [former Barca president Josep Maria] Bartomeu I never spoke.

"Everyone had a chance to speak, and we've never been pushy or arrogant. The announcement of that project was an act of incredible arrogance on their part, and that's probably why they don't want to communicate with UEFA. 

"But that has never influenced how we treat them in our tournaments. You can see it in their successes: Real Madrid will play in the Champions League final and Barca will play in the Women's Champions League. That is a clear sign that our competitions are healthy, fair and correct.

"Football must remain open to all, and we will not back down one millimetre to defend the European sporting model. What they want is theirs, and they are free to get together and do what they want."

Amid their refusal to back down on their support for the Super League, Real Madrid will appear in their 17th European Cup/Champions League final later this month after a remarkable 6-5 aggregate triumph over Manchester City in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, although UEFA has faced criticism for proposed Champions League reforms which could allow two qualification places to be awarded based on historical performances, Ceferin said the demise of the Super League made clear that continental football must remain open to all.

"I was glad it happened because it was always up in the air," he added. "When it finally came out, we ended once and for all with this nonsense that football can be bought, that football is only for the elite, only for the rich. 

"That will never happen. People warned me that the same people killed basketball, but I told them, 'Basketball is not football. It will never be football.' Football is part of our history. It is part of our traditions."

British rugby league star Zak Hardaker suffered a suspected seizure on the day the 30-year-old's move to Super League club Leeds Rhinos was announced.

Hardaker was out walking with his young son when he collapsed, requiring help from a paramedic who lived on the street where the incident occurred.

The health scare happened on Tuesday, Leeds said, with Hardaker taken to Pinderfields hospital in Wakefield. He had trained with the Rhinos squad earlier in the day.

Leeds said Hardaker underwent "various investigations before being safely discharged home".

His Wigan exit last week was reported to have been as a result of a disciplinary issue, with Warriors executive director Kris Radlinski subsequently saying the Cherry and Whites were "extremely disappointed that his time at the club has had to end in this way".

It paved the way for Hardaker to make a short-term return to Leeds, for whom he played over 100 games earlier in his career, winning three Super League titles and Man of Steel honours.

Hardaker's career has been disrupted by a series of controversies, and the talented back served a drugs ban while at Castleford Tigers after testing positive for cocaine in September 2017.

He had been expected to return to Leeds colours against Hull KR at Headingley on Friday, but he will not feature.

Hardaker said on Thursday: "I would like to say a huge thank you to the paramedic who came to my aid and administered first aid before the ambulance arrived, it does not bear to think about what might have been the outcome without her quick thinking.

"It is so disappointing that I will not get to play on Friday, but the Rhinos have given me great support and I will make sure I complete all the tests necessary, and I hope to be back on the field as soon as possible."

The Premier League claims it "recognises and accepts" the need for reforms in English football, but says the appointment of an independent regulator is "not necessary" after the UK Government backed such plans.

A fan-led review into English football was launched in response to the failed establishment of the European Super League last year - in which six Premier League clubs were involved – and after a number of mismanaged lower league clubs were forced out of business in recent years.

The UK Government announced its support for plans to introduce an independent regulator to the English game on Tuesday, which the Premier League has continued to oppose in a statement released in response.

However, the league says it accepts the need for reforms and promised to announce several changes ahead of the 2022-23 season, to ensure fans' voices carry greater weight in footballing governance.

"The Premier League recognises and accepts the case for reform and for a strengthened regulatory system across football," the statement began. 

"We welcome the clarity from the Government about their position, and are committed to working with them during this next phase of consultation, although we will continue to maintain that it is not necessary for there to be a statutory-backed regulator.

"Since the publication of the Fan-Led Review, the Premier League and our clubs have been working at pace to understand the full impact of the Review's recommendations and design and implement policies in response to its objectives, including through reviewing our Owners' and Directors' Test.

"We agree that fans are of vital importance to the game and their voices should be better listened to across the League. We will be introducing a number of measures to improve this area and plan to make a detailed announcement before the start of the 2022-23 season.

"We are reassured that the Government acknowledges the success of the Premier League and the importance of delivering change that also protects the League's position as one of this country’s most successful global exports. 

"It is this that creates the extraordinary football we see every week in grounds around the country and has enabled our ongoing commitment to support football at all levels by reinvesting an unprecedented £1.6 billion outside of the Premier League over the next three seasons."

Chelsea's hunt for new owners is down to three bidders after a consortium fronted by the Ricketts family withdrew from the race on Friday.

The Ricketts family, who own the Chicago Cubs baseball team, had grouped together with US billionaires Ken Griffin and Dan Gilbert.

But reports suggested members of the consortium have been unable to agree on the formalities of the bid.

"The Ricketts-Griffin-Gilbert Group has decided, after careful consideration, not to submit a final bid for Chelsea FC," a statement read.

"In the process of finalising their proposal, it became increasingly clear that certain issues could not be addressed given the unusual dynamics around the sales process.

"We have great admiration for Chelsea and its fans, and we wish the new owners well."

The bid had been met with widespread resistance over historical accusations of Islamophobia, with the Ricketts family saying it "rejects any form of hate in the strongest possible terms".

Reports in the UK media insisted the protests had nothing to do with the final decision not to launch a bid.

Chelsea were put up for sale by Roman Abramovich after the Russian oligarch was sanctioned by the UK government over his reported close ties to Russia president Vladimir Putin, who launched an attack on neighbouring Ukraine in February.

Offers to buy the club had to be submitted by Thursday at the latest and three parties remain in the hunt.

Groups fronted by Todd Boehly (part owner of the LA Dodgers), Martin Broughton (former British Airways and Liverpool chairman), and Steve Pagliuca (co-owner of the Boston Celtics and Atalanta) are fighting it out to complete a purchase.

The Ricketts family have pledged to never involve Chelsea in a European Super League, in a statement released by the prospective buyers of the West London club.

Chelsea were one of six Premier League sides to sign up to the ill-fated launch of the Super League in April 2021, with Stamford Bridge the scene of fierce fan protests after the club's involvement was announced.

The Ricketts family, who own Major League Baseball outfit the Chicago Cubs, are looking to buy the club after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government last month.

Furthermore, the family pledged to put diversity and inclusion "at the heart" of their prospective regime after their bid was subject to protests from Chelsea fans.

A statement containing a list of eight "specific commitments" has been released by the family in an attempt to persuade supporters of their ability to protect Chelsea's heritage and build for future success.

"Over the past fortnight, the Ricketts Family has met with several Chelsea supporter groups and carefully listened to all their feedback," the statement began.

"As we enter the next phase of the process, we are sharing a list of specific commitments that give fans a pivotal role in protecting Chelsea's heritage and building for future success.

"We will continue to discuss our ambitions for the club with fans and the wider football community in the coming days."

The first of the eight commitments made by the family pledged never to make changes to the club's name, badge, or colours without the consent of supporters, while point two addressed future participation in a revived Super League.

The prospective buyers promised to "never participate in a European Super League and always protect the integrity and heritage of Chelsea Football Club."

Chelsea Technical Director Petr Cech was forced to confront angry protesters outside the club's stadium last April, with hundreds of fans gathering to demand the Blues' withdrawal from the short-lived project. 

Meanwhile, point four on the list of commitments addressed concerns around diversity and inclusivity, with a "NoToRicketts" campaign gaining traction on social media after accusations of Islamophobia were made against family head Joe Ricketts.

A recent poll by the Chelsea Supporters trust found that 72% of respondents did not have confidence that the family would "run an inclusive and successful club", after Ricketts referred to Muslims as his "enemy" in a 2019 email.

The statement, however, promised that the family would "put diversity and inclusion at the heart of the club and fight against any form of discrimination or inequality" if the bid was successful.

Several other promises were made, relating to investment in the first team, exploring the potential redevelopment of Stamford Bridge, and increasing funding for Chelsea Women.

The list also pledged the creation of an "advisory committee" featuring former players, fans' representatives and community leaders to be involved in the club's decision-making processes. 

A campaign has been launched by Football Supporters Europe (FSE) calling on the European Union to safeguard football following last year's failed Super League plot.

The controversial proposal for a breakaway competition was announced last April but fell through two days later amid huge criticism from governing bodies and fan groups.

Premier League clubs Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham were first to withdraw, followed by Inter, Milan and Atletico Madrid.

Despite multiple threats, including a possible ban on competing in the Champions League, Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona have stood by the doomed project.

The FSE has now unveiled a campaign called "Win it on the Pitch" with the aim of garnering one million signatures to encourage the European Commission to role out new laws.

The organisation wants action taken to protect the European model of sport and for fans to be involved in discussions to help shape the long-term future of sport.

"The super league fiasco proved that European sport is on the brink of catastrophe," a statement from the organisation read.

"Decades of mismanagement has left countless clubs, communities, and competitions vulnerable to hostile takeovers by predatory investors whose only aim is to make money.

"Enough is enough. We must turn the outpouring of indignation, solidarity, and common purpose that greeted the super league into a clear, practical, and long-term plan of action.

"Sport is a social good that belongs to everyone – not just the wealthy and the elite. 

"Now more than ever, it is crucial that the institutions of the European Union, Member States, and politicians work with fans and concerned citizens to safeguard football and other sports across the continent."

Kevin Naiqama was "overcome with emotion" after his two tries led St Helens to a 12-10 win over Catalans Dragons at Old Trafford, their third straight Super League Grand Final success.

Saints' 2020 triumph had come in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in front of empty stands, but they had their fans back to celebrate the three-peat.

It was a far less dramatic victory than that last-gasp defeat of Wigan Warriors, however, even if the game swung back and forth, bookended by Naiqama's tries.

His first effort came as he fought through two challenges on the try line to touch the ball down.

But Catalans were just two points behind at the break and made the most of Tommy Makinson's yellow card – the first in Grand Final history – as Mike McMeeken grounded the ball after Josh Drinkwater's kick hung in the air and eventually dropped his way.

A more precise kick at the other end provided the final twist, though, with Jonny Lomax's no-look effort bobbling into the arms of Naiqama. Lachlan Coote made no mistake with the decisive extras.

Catalans had clinched their Leaders' Shield against Saints in astonishing fashion last month, trailing by 18 points with four minutes to play at Magic Weekend and winning.

Yet there was no repeat of those St James' Park heroics, as Dragons failed to mount another attack in the closing minutes.

"I'm overcome with emotion," Naiqama told Sky Sports. "I love this team and I love this town."

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has been accused by LaLiga chief Javier Tebas of "psychologically kidnapping" Barcelona in recent years.

Tebas has previously criticised Barcelona for supporting a proposed Super League, which failed to get off the ground as a backlash quickly led to the withdrawal of nine of the 12 founding members.

The 59-year-old also more recently hit out at Barca and Madrid for rejecting a €2.7billion arrangement with CVC Capital Partners, a deal that he argued would have allowed the Catalan giants to keep hold of Lionel Messi.

In the latest exchange between two of the most powerful men in Spanish football, Tebas has now claimed Perez swayed Barcelona counterpart Joan Laporta's decision to not accept the offer on the table.

"I have the feeling that at Barca there's a 'psychological kidnapping' regarding Florentino, like an inferiority complex," Tebas told Sport. 

"Florentino is a very intelligent guy and Jose Angel Sanchez, his director general, is the most empathetic man in European football. 

"All that glamour and know-how, up against someone (Laporta) who's been outside the world of football for more than 10 years.

"Barca were in favour of the CVC deal right until Real Madrid said no... In the last 72 hours everything changed. I think it was very much connected to the Super League and the strategy that Real Madrid are following."

Years of financial mismanagement caught up with Barcelona last month when they were unable to offer a new contract to Messi due to LaLiga's financial restrictions.

However, Tebas has reiterated that Barca could well have kept hold of Messi – who has since joined Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent – had they signed up to the CVC investment.

"Yes, it could have been avoided," he said. "I spoke about it with Laporta personally... I think next season with the figures Barca put out, we'll see if Messi could really have stayed or not.

"It wasn't a financial decision. I know that for sure. If Laporta shook hands with Messi, it was because for a month he had accepted the CVC offer. 

"He was in favour for a month. That's why he said things were going well. He even called me twice to speed up the CVC operation, because Messi was getting nervous."

Losing six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi to Ligue 1 giants PSG is a major blow for LaLiga, even more so than the previous high-profile exits of other big name players and coaches in the view of Tebas.

"Just like when Cristiano Ronaldo, Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho left. We knew that one day this would happen," he said.

"We have had the great luck of having the two best footballers in the world in the two best teams in the world and from LaLiga we have been able to take advantage of this to put ourselves on the world front line. 

"Perhaps Messi's departure has been a bit more painful, because personally I consider him the best in history, and he didn't deserve to leave like that, not only for Barça but for LaLiga as well."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin would not mind if Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona quit the Champions League after the trio "tried to kill football".

Juve, Madrid and Barca were three of 12 clubs announced as founding members of the Super League in April, along with Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Milan, Inter and Atletico Madrid.

However, the contentious project failed to get off the ground as a backlash quickly led to the withdrawal of all six English teams involved, followed by Atleti, Milan and Inter.

All 12 founding Super League members quit the European Club Association (ECA) before the competition collapsed, but nine of the rebel clubs have since been welcomed back.

Madrid and financially stricken LaLiga rivals Barca retain a commitment to the ill-fated collaboration, as do Serie A giants Juve, yet each of those teams will compete in the Champions League when the group stage begins next week.

Taking aim at the presidents of the three breakaway clubs, Andrea Agnelli, Florentino Perez and Joan Laporta, Ceferin told Der Spiegel: "These three clubs simply have incompetent leaders. Those guys have tried to kill football.

"I would not mind if those teams left. It is very funny that they want to create a new competition and at the same time they want to play in the Champions League this season."

Speaking in April, Super League president Perez argued the competition would be the saviour of football as clubs struggled to adjust to the financial problems brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Just four months on, though, Madrid tabled three offers for Kylian Mbappe, who is into the final year of his Paris Saint-Germain contract, with the third of the rejected bids reportedly worth up to €200million.

"He is criticising UEFA and saying that the club can only survive with a Super League, then he tries to sign Mbappe," Ceferin said of Perez.

Nine of the rebel clubs that signed up for the doomed Super League project have been welcomed back into the European Club Association (ECA).

Six Premier League teams – Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal – are back in the independent body that oversees the European club game, along with LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid and Serie A rivals Milan and Inter.

That amounts to three quarters of the initial breakaway dozen, with the financially stricken Barcelona retaining a commitment to the ill-fated collaboration along with Real Madrid and Juventus.

All 12 founding Super League clubs quit the ECA in April before the quick collapse of the new competition amid supporter protests and opposition from governing bodies.

"Following the receipt by ECA of specific requests asking the ECA Board to consider the withdrawal of their previous resignation requests of April 2021, the ECA Executive Board has agreed that the following clubs will retain their ECA ordinary membership for the current 2019-23 ECA membership cycle: AC Milan, Arsenal FC, Chelsea FC, Club Atletico de Madrid, FC Internazionale Milano, Liverpool FC, Manchester City FC, Manchester United FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC," an ECA statement read.

"In its decision, and after an exhaustive process of re-engagement by the clubs and re-assessment by ECA over recent months, the ECA Executive Board took into consideration the clubs’ acknowledgement that the so-called European Super League project was not in the interests of the wider football community and their publicly communicated decisions to abandon said ESL project completely.

"The ECA Board also acknowledged the clubs’ stated willingness to engage actively with ECA in its collective mission to develop European club football – in the open and transparent interests of all, not the few."

The nine teams re-admitted to the ECA, which is now chaired by Paris Saint-Germain chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi, previously reached a financial settlement with UEFA, amounting to a combined payment of €15million and five per cent of revenues from one season of European competitions.

Additionally the clubs agreed to be fined €100m if they attempt to play in any future unauthorised competition.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted his team will not be impacted by protests against the club's owners and the European Super League ahead of a defining week at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer's Red Devils were held to a 0-0 draw by rivals Leeds United in Premier League action at Elland Road on Sunday.

The pre-match build-up had been centred on the Super League controversy, which has fuelled an already negative view on Manchester United's owners – the Glazer family.

The breakaway competition, which sought to establish a closed-shop competition featuring 12 of the continent's elite clubs – including United – collapsed 48 hours after its launch, in the face of widespread opposition.

United fans have continued to protest against the Glazer family, with a plane trailing a banner – "2bn stolen – Glazers out' – flying over Elland Road prior to kick-off on Sunday.

As United look ahead to Thursday's opening leg of their Europa League semi-final against Roma, followed by a showdown against bitter rivals Liverpool on Sunday, Solskjaer was asked if the protests would distract the players for the remainder of the season.

"I'm really happy with the boys' focus. They have such a determination to finish the season strong," Solskjaer told reporters as United sit second in the Premier League, 10 points behind leaders Manchester City and 13 points clear of sixth-placed Liverpool.

"Of course, the European disappointment of the last game of last season [against Sevilla in the Europa League], that still sticks in their minds and hearts.

"We're very, very focused to do well against Roma [UEL semi-final] and, of course, we've got Liverpool in between so we're not worried about [the protests] at all."

United are unbeaten in their last 24 Premier League away games (W15 D9), with only Arsenal between April 2003 and September 2004 (27) having a longer such run in English top-flight history.

"It's a really good achievement, no matter if there's fans or no fans," Solskjaer said. "With the 24 game [streak] without defeat, I think the players have prepared well for these games. We travel, the work by the coaches for every game is really, really good and planned down to a tee.

"I've got to say, we hope it continues because we've got a lot of big games coming up. We want to take as many points as possible."

United are on track to finish second this season, with the Red Devils eight points clear of Leicester City – who have a match in hand.

However, United's wait for Premier League glory is set to continue, having not hoisted the trophy aloft since 2012-13.

"We've taken baby steps in the way we play, in the way we train, in the fitness," added Solskjaer. "The coaches, the work that has been done on the training ground has been planned. We have been able to put down layer by layer by layer, as I said, and now we feel confident going into every game, trusting our way of playing.

"That's a big thing for us, knowing that whoever we play against, we have our own way of dealing with the opponent. Of course, there's little tweaks here and there but with an addition or two, we'll keep on strengthening this squad and keep on training hard.

"I've not seen many teams, in the second half, dominate as much as we did against Leeds. They're so fit, strong, they steam roller teams but we almost did that to them in the second half."

United have drawn seven league games nil-nil this season – only in 1980-81 (eight) have they been involved in more goalless draws in a single league campaign. The Red Devils have the most goalless draws of any side in the Premier League this term.

"Compared to last season, we've won a few more tight games," said Solskjaer. "We've won many games towards the end of the game, I think our fitness has been really good. Second half, we looked strong, like athletes. I really liked what I saw out there. We dominated, played in their half, kept them away from our goal, or even from our half really.

"So really happy with that but today we just didn't have the moments, we didn't take them when we had them. A draw is disappointing because we wanted to put pressure on Manchester City, but unfortunately we couldn't score."

Florentino Perez remains adamant the European Super League must go ahead as "football is severely damaged", with the Real Madrid president suggesting the possibility of the top-four teams from each country featuring in the breakaway competition.

Plans for a Super League to rival UEFA's Champions League were announced on Sunday, with 12 founding members – Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Juventus, Inter and Milan.

But after widespread criticism from UEFA, FIFA, clubs, governments, fans and pundits, all six Premier League clubs pulled out, while Atletico, Inter, Milan and Juve followed suit.

Perez – who had been appointed as chairman of the competition – has continued to stress the need for the Super League and he flagged the idea of moving away from an exclusive group of clubs.

"These things get manipulated," Perez told Diario AS, with the full interview to be published on Saturday. "It is not a plan which excludes club and nor is it designed to go against other leagues.

"The Super League project is the best possible solution, and it has been created to help football get out of the crisis. Football is severely damaged because its economy has been ruined and it has to adapt to the new era we are living in. The Super League does not go against domestic competitions and its objective is to ensure that more money is available for all sections of football. The concept is to generate more interest for the games. Nor do I think that the changes which UEFA have made are a real solution to the problem because what has been proposed isn't even an improvement on the current model.

"Also, we cannot wait until 2024. But in any case, we must have done something badly. We are going to try to turn this around and develop more ideas. Maybe the solution is for the top four teams in every league to play. I don't know, but something needs to be done because today's youth, those between 14 and 24 years of age, are abandoning football because they see it as being boring compared to the other forms of entertainment which they prefer.

"There are four billion football fans all over the world and half of them are fans of the clubs in the Super League. Football is the only global sport."

Perez added: "Lets look at the data: a recent report by KPMG - in the first three months of the pandemic alone last season, the 12 clubs in the Super League reported losses of 650 million euros.

"By the end of this season, with the pandemic still ongoing, the losses will be between 2,000 and 2,500 million euros. Girondins [Bordeaux] have recently gone into administration. Either we do something soon or many more clubs will go under."

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