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City first to go as Super League plan lies in tatters

Chelsea also set to quit amid criticism, while Woodward is to leave United

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Fan power: Protesting Chelsea fans celebrate news that the club is set to quit the Super League

Fan power: Protesting Chelsea fans celebrate news that the club is set to quit the Super League

Getty Images

Fan power: Protesting Chelsea fans celebrate news that the club is set to quit the Super League

Manchester City last night confirmed their intention to pull out of the proposed European Super League.

City, along with the other members of English football's so-called 'big six', were among 12 clubs plotting to form a breakaway rival to the Champions League.

News of their intention to withdraw from the controversial project came after reports Chelsea were also planning to quit.

A City statement read: "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."

On a day of rapid developments that left the Super League concept in danger of collapsing just two days after it had been announced, Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward also resigned.

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin welcomed the news that City had begun the process to withdraw from the Super League.

"I am delighted to welcome City back to the European football family," the Slovenian said.

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"They have shown great intelligence in listening to the many voices - most notably their fans - that have spelled 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."

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Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin

PA

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin

 

It is understood Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich drove the decision to remove his club from the competition amid widespread condemnation of the concept and considerable fan disquiet.

The Chelsea team were met by protesting supporters as they arrived at Stamford Bridge for their Premier League game against Brighton last night.

The Chelsea development was soon followed by confirmation that City wanted out.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson took to Twitter, saying: "The decision by Chelsea and Manchester City is - if confirmed - absolutely the right one and I commend them for it. I hope the other clubs involved in the European Super League will follow their lead."

As for United chief Woodward, the 49-year-old, who joined the club in 2005, became the first high-profile departure since plans for the Super League were unveiled on Sunday evening.

Woodward's exit is understood to be amicable with the owners, the Glazer family, and he will continue in his role until the end of 2021.

"I am extremely proud to have served United and it has been an honour to work for the world's greatest football club for the past 16 years," the outgoing executive vice-chairman said. "The club is well positioned for the future and it will be difficult to walk away at the end of the year."

Woodward made no mention of the Super League in his comments and it is reported that his exit his unrelated to the controversial plans.

He played a key role in the newfangled competition and was singled out for criticism by Uefa president Ceferin.

News of the breakaway league has been met by intense and relentless criticism, with the Old Trafford giants among six Premier League clubs to join the 12-strong breakaway European competition.

United club co-chairman Joel Glazer was named as vice-chairman of the Super League, hailing it as a "new chapter" amid a storm of condemnation.

In a statement confirming Woodward's departure, Glazer commented: "Ed Woodward has served the club with great distinction.

"On behalf of everyone at United I would like to place on record our sincere thanks for his tireless work and dedication.

"His contribution to the club has been massive, and he will always be welcome at Old Trafford as a part of the Manchester United family."

Meanwhile, Liverpool supporters group Spirit of Shankly called on the club to withdraw and for the board to consider their positions.

"Spirit of Shankly note with anger that club owners FSG are still hanging on to this shattered nightmare of a European 'Super' League," a statement read.

"We are calling on the FSG board to withdraw our club from this catastrophic idea and consider their positions with immediate effect.

"To coin a previous campaign of ours, 'Not Welcome Here'."

When the news that Woodward was understood to have resigned as Manchester United executive vice-chairman broke, Gary Neville, an outspoken critic of the Super League, tweeted a waving emoji.

The former United defender then posted a picture of himself drinking a glass of wine with the caption: "To the Super League."

There had been reports that Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson had called a meeting of his fellow Premier League skippers, but he may now not need to.

He and a number of his Liverpool team-mates tweeted: "We don't like it and we don't want it to happen. This is our collective position.

"Our commitment to this football club its supporters is absolute and unconditional. You'll Never Walk Alone."

Henderson had handed over the running of his social account to an anti-bullying charity but said he was tweeting as himself because it "needs to be said".


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