Wednesday 21 April 2021 11:08 am

Arsenal and Liverpool say sorry for plotting European Super League but clubs' defence of motivations shows wildly unpopular project is far from dead

The English clubs among the “dirty dozen” behind plans for a European Super League have begun attempts to repair the damage caused by the failed breakaway.

But while Arsenal and Liverpool apologised to supporters, they and the other English clubs to pull out – Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – stopped short of disowning the idea.

Arsenal, United and Spurs also used their statements to defend moves to shake up the game’s structures, indicating that, although this apparent attempt at a coup failed, the European Super League is far from dead as a concept.

And those speaking on behalf of the clubs still committed to a European Super League have insisted they will continue to agitate for change.

Which clubs said sorry for the European Super League?

Arsenal were the only club to apologise when all six English sides backed out of the plans on Tuesday night.

In a statement attributed to the club’s board, they said: “We made a mistake, and we apologise for it.”

But they added that football still needed greater financial stability and that Arsenal would drive efforts to bring about changes it deems necessary.

“The system needs to be fixed,” the club said.

Liverpool drew criticism for issuing only a brief statement confirming their withdrawal from the European Super League on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday morning, the club released a video from principal owner John W Henry, who said the owners alone were to blame.

“I want to apologise to all fans and supporters of Liverpool for the disruption I caused over the past 48 hours,” he said. 

Henry did not address the substance of the plans but did say the owners had only had “your club’s best interests” at heart.

What did Manchester United and Tottenham say?

Manchester United confirmed they were pulling out of the European Super League in a perfunctory statement that referenced the backlash from fans and government.

But perhaps unsurprisingly, given United have been reported to be among those most keen on a breakaway, the club indicated it had not abandoned hope of shaking up existing structures.

“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 said.

Tottenham announced their climbdown with a statement from chairman Daniel Levy, who expressed “regret” at the “anxiety and upset” caused by the proposal.

The European Super League was announced on Sunday but the plans collapsed within 48 hours
The European Super League was announced on Sunday but the plans collapsed within 48 hours. (Credit: The Super League)

But he also defended the club’s initial commitment to a European Super League on the grounds it promised to “better ensure financial fair play and financial sustainability”.

“We believe we should never stand still and that the sport should constantly review competitions and governance to ensure the game we all love continues to evolve,” Levy added.

What did Manchester City and Chelsea say?

Manchester City were the first of the 12 founder clubs to formally confirm they were backing out of the European Super League.

Their one-sentence statement said nothing more, however, so did not express contrition or address their views on the concept.

Chelsea, too, kept their statement brief but were keen to suggest that they had not been among the early ringleaders.

“Having joined the group late last week, we have now had time to consider the matter fully and have decided that our continued participation in these plans would not be in the best interests of the club, our supporters or the wider football community,” the club said.

What did European Super League organisers say?

The other six founder clubs – Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan – issued a defiant statement in response to the English contingent’s withdrawal.

They said they remained “convinced that the current status quo of European football needs to change”, adding “the existing system does not work”.

The European Super League statement said it believed its plans were lawful, having won an initial legal ruling on Tuesday preventing its clubs being banned from other competitions.

It concluded by saying the clubs would “reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project”.