The apologies have begun after all six Premier League clubs announced their withdrawal from the hugely controversial European Super League on a dramatic night.
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said the club “regret the anxiety and upset caused by the proposal” while Arsenal apologised for their “mistake” in signing up for the venture.
Liverpool principal owner John W Henry took full responsibility for the “disruption” caused by the project in a video message to supporters.
John W Henry's message to Liverpool supporters. pic.twitter.com/pHW3RbOcKu— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 21, 2021
“I want to apologise to all the fans and supporters of Liverpool Football Club for the disruption I caused over the last 48 hours,” Henry said.
“It goes without saying but should be said, the project put forward was never going to stand without the support of the fans.
“No-one ever thought differently in England. Over these 48 hours you were very clear that it would not stand. We heard you. I heard you.”
As a result of listening to you and the wider football community over recent days we are withdrawing from the proposed Super League.— Arsenal (@Arsenal) April 20, 2021
We made a mistake, and we apologise for it.
Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea were a little more prosaic in confirming they were pulling out of the breakaway league with short statements, but the fallout is unlikely to end there.
Ed Woodward announced he will step down as United executive vice-chairman by the end of 2021, while Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher called for changes at the top at the Red Devils and Liverpool, the teams they respectively support.
It is understood Tottenham fans are planning to go ahead with a protest against the club’s owners on Wednesday afternoon, while the Chelsea Supporters Trust has called for Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and chief executive Guy Laurence to go.
The English ‘Big Six’ had agreed to join the new league alongside Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, and the two Milan clubs.
But following Monday night’s drama the proposed league – which was due to have 15 permanent members with five others qualifying each season – lies in tatters.
In a statement early on Wednesday, the Super League said it was considering “appropriate steps to reshape the project” but when asked by Reuters on Wednesday morning if the league could continue, Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli – a Super League vice-chairman – said: “To be frank and honest no, evidently that is not the case.”
Club statement.— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 20, 2021
Atletico and Inter became the seventh and eighth sides respectively to officially withdraw when they issued statements on Wednesday morning, closely followed by AC Milan, who nevertheless defiantly claimed “change is not always easy, but evolution is necessary for progress”.
Juventus soon released a statement in which they admitted there were “limited possibilities” for the Super League to proceed in its original format, without explicitly confirming their intention to withdraw.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin welcomed the withdrawal of the English clubs from the planned breakaway league.
“I said yesterday that it is admirable to admit a mistake and these clubs made a big mistake,” he said. “But they are back in the fold now and I know they have a lot to offer not just to our competitions but to the whole of the European game.
“The important thing now is that we move on, rebuild the unity that the game enjoyed before this and move forward together.”
While senior figures at the six clubs involved have difficult questions to answer, fans, players, managers and pundits alike were celebrating an important victory.
The fans have always been and will always be integral to Liverpool Football Club. In so many ways they are the Club. I am relieved to know that the Club has listened to them.— Sir Kenny Dalglish (@kennethdalglish) April 20, 2021
Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the announcements of the English clubs’ withdrawals as “the right result”.
Johnson tweeted: “I welcome last night’s announcement.
“This is the right result for football fans, clubs, and communities across the country. We must continue to protect our cherished national game.”
I welcome last night’s announcement. This is the right result for football fans, clubs, and communities across the country. We must continue to protect our cherished national game.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) April 21, 2021
Neville said on Sky Sports: “It’s absolutely incredible. There was large concern yesterday morning as a Manchester United fan thinking Joel Glazer put his name on a statement – you thought it’s going to be difficult to back down.
“But City have enacted withdrawal proceedings and Chelsea are doing the same. It’s gone, done!”
Carragher, like Neville an outspoken critic of the Super League, tweeted a picture of a headstone engraved with the inscription “European Super League, born April 18, 2021, died April 20, 2021.”
Carragher claimed the comments of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, midfielder James Milner and Leeds striker Patrick Bamford after Monday night’s match helped swing the balance.
“I just think the reaction of everybody, Jurgen Klopp coming out last night, James Milner and Patrick Bamford,” he told Sky Sports on Tuesday evening.
“Yesterday afternoon I was fearful. It was really serious, it felt like there was no fight, that the ship had sailed.
“But after the game I felt re-energised and was confident this would be over after those players came out. That gave me a huge lift. I said as soon as one goes that’s the end of it, and it’s finished.”
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson led the backlash within the club with a tweet which read: “We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen. This is our collective position.
“Our commitment to this football club and its supporters is absolute and unconditional. You’ll never walk alone.”
Carragher says club owners Fenway Sports Group should no longer continue at the helm.
“Klopp threw the owners under the bus, the captain has, Kenny Dalglish has,” he added.
“I don’t know what they are hanging on for. I don’t see a future for the ownership on the back of this.”