Players at the six English clubs involved are said to be furious as they had “no idea” the plan was even being discussed. Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola voiced his opposition, saying a league without promotion or relegation is “not sport”. His club, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham faced a barrage of criticism over the breakaway. But Chelsea have now joined Manchester City in withdrawing from the European Super League after being taken aback by the opposition from their own fans.
Former England captain David Beckham, who owns a team in the US, blasted the plan. He said: “As a player and now as an owner I know our sport is nothing without the fans. We need football to be fair and competitions based on merit.
“Unless we protect these values the game we love is in danger.”
Alan Shearer, another former Three Lions captain, had called for the six English teams to be banned from the Premier League.
The BBC pundit said: “The Super League have chucked a grenade at the Premier League and have chucked a grenade at everyone else.
“Well chuck one back – ban them. Ban them immediately if you can. I’m sure they’ll look at every possible legal angle and what pressure they’re under in doing that but if you can, do it.”
Manchester United star Marcus Rashford tweeted a cryptic message, showing a banner at Old Trafford which states: “Football is nothing without the fans.”
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez claimed the 12 founding members of the European Super League are “doing this to save football” – a claim ridiculed by supporters, pundits and experts.
AC Milan chief executive Ivan Gazidis also said the rebel project would be good for his club and for the game.
A Madrid court said UEFA and FIFA must not impose sanctions on clubs or players taking part until it fully considers the proposed new competition’s case.
But Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid faced being expelled from the Champions League by the end of the week, according to a UEFA member.
Meanwhile, City boss Guardiola, speaking for the first time about the civil war yesterday, said: “It is not a sport where the relation between effort and success does not exist.
“It is not a sport where success is already guaranteed, where it doesn’t matter when you lose.
“I want the strongest competition possible, especially in the Premier League.
“It’s not fair if one team fights to make it to the top and then cannot qualify because success is just guaranteed for a few clubs. Ajax have four or five Champions League titles, but will not be there?
“When you talk about the Premier League and UEFA, they look after their interests. UEFA have also failed. They intere als have to communicate. They have to clarify.”
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers believes a breakaway Euro league proves football is prioritising business over sport.
He said: “There has been a line drawn in the sand with all of this.
“Football is moving from sport to business but we must never lose the fact it is a sport and is a game for supporters and players.
“That always has to be at the forefront of any decision.”