Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham have followed Chelsea and Manchester City in pulling out from the proposed Super League.
City were the first Premier League side to publicly confirm they were pulling out of the breakaway competition on Tuesday evening, despite news initially emerging from Chelsea earlier in the day they had made a U-turn.
The Premier League leaders said in a statement on Tuesday evening: “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.”
Late on Tuesday evening, the remaining four of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ made the announcement they were backing out of plans to form a breakaway European Super League.
“We made a mistake, and we apologise for it,” said Arsenal. “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.”
In their statement, Manchester United said: “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.”
Liverpool stated: “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.”
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy told the club’s website: “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.”
Chelsea, whose fans protested against the planned breakaway league outside Stamford Bridge ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League match against Brighton, are understood to have changed their mind because of the overwhelming negative worldwide reaction.
According to Sky Sports’ Kaveh Solhekol, the “totally negative reaction to ESL plans was in danger of totally overshadowing all the good work the club does in the community.
“Chelsea made a last-minute decision last week to join the ESL. They now regret the decision and accept it was a mistake. They felt they had to ‘jump on the train because it was leaving the station’. Turned out it was a train to nowhere.”
The competition’s announcement on Sunday, made by 12 founding clubs – including Manchester United, City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham from the Premier League – was met with widespread criticism.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to “thwart” the competition, likening it to a “cartel”, while the other 14 Premier League clubs rejected the proposal and UEFA threatened potential sanctions on the rebel group.
On Tuesday splits were emerging among the breakaway sides – despite one board member, speaking on the condition of anonymity, insisting “they will not back down”.
The Football Association welcomed the news some clubs had decided to withdraw their support from the new competition.
An FA statement 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 thanks the fans in particular for their influential and unequivocal voice during this time, holding true to the guiding principles of football. It is a powerful reminder that the game is, and always will be, for fans.
“We would also like to thank the Prime Minister, Secretary of State and Sports Minister for their unwavering and critical support against these plans.”
Ahead of the other Premier League clubs following suit, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin welcomed the withdrawal of Manchester City from the breakaway closed league project.
He said: “I am delighted to welcome City back to the European football family.
“They have shown great intelligence in listening to the many voices – most notably their fans – that have spelt 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.
“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.”