Manchester City will begin exiting the proposed European Super League, the club confirmed on Tuesday.
Chelsea are also expected to leave the proposed league, sources confirmed to ESPN.
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The reversal is an impressive U-turn for the two English Premier League clubs after it was announced on Sunday that they are among the top twelve European football teams poised to break away from the UEFA Champions League.
Man City said in one short explanation: “Manchester City Football Club can confirm that it has formally adopted the group withdrawal procedures in order to develop plans for a European Super League.”
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said: “I am very happy to see you [Manchester City] back to the European soccer family. They showed great intelligence listening to the many voices – especially their fans.
“It takes courage to admit a mistake, but I’ve never doubted that they had the ability and common sense to make that decision. The city is a real asset to the game and I’m excited to be with them for one better future for Europeans to work together game. “
The Chelsea News was first published by the BBC and endorsed by James Olley of ESPN. The club has yet to make an official statement.
These 12 clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus – have insisted that the ESL would give more financial support to the football pyramid with planned solidarity payments of EUR 10 billion to non-participating clubs to be spread over an initial period of 23 years.
The organizers of the Super League, led by Real Madrid President Florentino Perez, had announced that they wanted to add three more founding members before launching their competition “as soon as possible”.
The developments came ahead of the Chelsea Premier League game against Brighton on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge. A group of Chelsea players went to chairman Bruce Buck to say they were against the proposed league, sources said Olley.
Several hundred fans gathered in front of Stamford Bridge hours before kick-off to speak out against the club’s plan to register for the new competition.
Technical and performance director Petr Cech was spotted on camera asking fans to pull the team bus into the ground when fans blocked access to the stadium.
News then went through that the Blues were preparing filings to reverse their decision to join and cheering and chanting “We Saved Football” from fans 300 meters from the main stadium entrance.
The 14 other Premier League clubs met earlier in the day to discuss the crisis with the football association.
The Premier League issued a statement Tuesday saying it “unanimously and vigorously rejected the plans” and is considering measures to hold the six clubs accountable.
In Spain, Barcelona’s participation in a new league would depend on the members of the league club voting for the proposal, according to ESPN Deportes and Spanish media reports.
Catalan television broadcaster TV3 reported that the contract that Barca President Joan Laporta signed with the other 11 founding member clubs contained a clause that would allow the club to withdraw from the deal if its members fail to agree.
The report added that Laporta met with Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman on Tuesday to explain the club’s position in the Super League and on Wednesday with club captains Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto has made an appointment.
Barcelona wasn’t immediately available for comment.
In contrast to the Champions League competition, in which the teams have to qualify through their domestic league, the founding Super League teams would secure a place in the new competition every year.
UEFA has warned that it may impose sanctions on clubs and players who compete in the runaway competition and has raised concerns from public figures such as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and Pope Francis.
UEFA voted on changes to the Champions League format on Monday by expanding it from 32 to 36 teams with the redesigned tournament set to begin at the beginning of the 2024-25 season.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino told the 12 breakaway European Super League clubs on Tuesday that they could not be “half in, half out” of the established football system and face the reality of their choice.
A number of top players who were under contract with these six Premier League clubs had raised concerns about UEFA’s threat to ban them to their countries from international tournaments, including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Reuters contributed to this report.