Liverpool owner John Henry and Manchester United coowner Joel Glazer issued grovelling apologies to supporters yesterday, while Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said sorry for the anxiety caused. Arsenal, owned by American billionaire Stan Kroenke, have also expressed their regrets over the breakaway bid. The six Premier League clubs involved all withdrew from the plan within hours of each other late on Tuesday following a furious backlash.
Fans of Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal all called on their owners to sell, while Chelsea supporters said they had no confidence in the club’s leadership.
Chelsea, faced with an angry protest from their fans outside their Stamford Bridge stadium, was quick to act, preparing documents to formally withdraw.
Manchester City also bailed early after supporters gathered to vent fury at their ground.
Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli conceded the European Super League (ESL) project cannot proceed as AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid joined the six Premier League clubs in withdrawing.
He was one of the chief architects of the rebellion by 12 clubs from England, Spain and Italy.
Liverpool supporters’ group Spirit of Shankly refused to accept John Henry’s apology for signing up to the ESL.
The group said: “It has been a tumultuous, sickening few days for us all. The arrogance and deception shown behind this money-grab is frightening. But not surprising.
“We have noted John Henry’s apology, but this PR exercise is too little too late. Liverpool Football Club is not an American franchise, it is a community steeped in history and tradition.
“The ‘future of football’ came crashing down in 48 hours because of the solidarity and outcry of ‘legacy’ fans across the country.
“This debacle must be a catalyst for real change, not an exercise in damage limitation.”
Former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher warned the owners, Fenway Sports Group, that they have “no future” at the club after the ESL debacle.
He said: “I don’t see how they can continue. This will never be forgotten.”
Joel Glazer, co-chairman of Manchester United, vowed to stay on, despite the pressure. He said: “I understand it will take time for the scars to heal, I am committed to rebuilding trust with our fans and learning from the message you delivered with such conviction.”
But former Manchester United star Gary Neville said: “Jamie Carragher has just talked about FSG having no place in Liverpool, the Glazers have no place in Manchester anymore. The people have spoken. We were on the brink of anarchy if this had continued.
“These six sets of owners in this country and the other ones in Europe have misread this situation badly. We are in the midst of a pandemic. We’ve been locked in for months. They’ve tried to run away with the crown jewels while we are all down.”
The Manchester United Supporters Trust statement said: “The Glazers ought to consider if now is their moment to leave the pitch. But we don’t want them selling off to the highest bidder.
“This is a real opportunity for the Glazers to change their path and open the door to supporter shareholding with full voting rights. That can be put in place now to allow supporters time to start building a stake.”
Former Manchester United and England midfielder Nicky Butt said: “What happened is the worst case of bullying from powerful people – so whether they apologise or not is irrelevant to me. It’s difficult to regain someone’s trust.”
The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust said: “We presently have little or no confidence in our current leadership at board level.
“Chairman Bruce Buck extensively defended Chelsea’s plan to remain in the Super League.
“We are disappointed that an apology has not been included in the statement. The legacy of our club was put at risk for what appears to have been solely for financial gain.”
Akhil Vyas, of the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, said Stan Kroenke had been an absent owner. He added: “There’s a lot of noise on social media protests and around London but I’m not sure how much Stan Kroenke cares or will see of it. They’ll be hoping it just goes away. I’m hoping this can really be used as a catalyst for change, not just for Arsenal fans but for all fans.”
Manchester City Supporters’ Club general secretary Kevin Parker urged the club to apologise and explain the decision to join.
He said: “There has to be some form of enquiry as to why this happens. This decision went completely against the ethos of the football club since Sheikh Mansour bought them.”