By Ian Ransom
April 21 (Reuters) – Players, experts and fans cheered a “beautiful day for football” after the breakaway European Super League broke up with the withdrawal of the six English clubs that signed up for the controversial competition.
After a storm of protests and threats of sanctions from European and global governing bodies of the game, the Super League said it will “reconsider” its next steps after being reduced to three teams each from Spain and Italy on Tuesday.
Amid reports that Italian teams Inter Milan and AC Milan had also retired, former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher declared the competition dead in the water.
“The Super League is over! Well done to all fans across the country!” he said on social media.
Manchester City were the first to pull out of the company before Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea announced they would follow suit.
“What a beautiful day for football. Let’s keep playing, keep fighting, keep dreaming,” said Benjamin Mendy, Manchester City defender.
Manchester United Vice Chairman Ed Woodward was the first victim of the backlash and announced his resignation just before his club abandoned a project he was instrumental in building.
Former Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand, a fierce critic of the runaway competition from the start, said the teams would come to their senses.
“The teams are finally seeing sense and are pulling out of the #SuperLeague … Football is and ALWAYS will be about the fans,” he said on social media.
“The fans obviously weren’t even considering … shame.”
“We saved football”
Before their Premier League game against Brighton & Hove Albion, fans gathered outside Stamford Bridge Stadium in Chelsea to protest the runaway league.
At the end they sang: “We saved football!” According to reports that were filtered through, Chelsea abandoned the project.
The story goes on
The Football Association welcomed the withdrawal of the six English clubs and said the Super League had “threatened the whole pyramid”.
“English football has a proud history of opportunity for all clubs and the game unanimously rejected a closed league,” said the FA.
“It was a position that our game could naturally have shared, but instead it united us all.”
The split in the game threatened by the Super League and the strength of sentiment it evoked prompted political leaders across Europe to speak out and, in some cases, threatened intervention.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his administration would consider passing laws to stop the escape and liken the plans to creating a cartel.
The owners of the six English clubs remain angry, and some experts claim their management is no longer tenable.
Liverpool’s Graeme Souness said fans couldn’t forgive them despite the U-turn.
“It has been shown that they are basically selling their soul,” said the Sky Sports expert.
“They wanted to sell the souls of our great institutions. They sold their souls for a quick buck. Our supporters will not forgive them. We are not America.”
(Additional reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; editing by Peter Rutherford)