British prime minister Boris Johnson hailed Chelsea and Manchester City’s decision to pull out of the proposed European Super League on Tuesday night.
The two clubs were part of 12 teams from England, Spain and Italy who on Sunday night said they wanted to start the elite competition and also appear in their respective domestic championships on the weekend.
The proposal, championed by the Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and Juventus’s Andrea Agnelli, was met with condemnation from leading politicians such as Johnson and the French president Emmanuel Macron.
Former football stars such as Eric Cantona and Gary Neville trashed the idea. And active players in the sides in the founding 12 raised doubts about the legitimacy of what they were being asked to feature in.
Johnson tweeted the two English clubs had done the right thing and he urged the four other Premier League teams – Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur – to follow suit.
“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,” said a club statement on Tuesday night.
Chelsea’s decision emerged as the team arrived to play Brighton at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening.
Hundreds of fans gathered outside the stadium waving banners and chanted slogans in protest over the club’s move.
The start of the game was delayed 15 minutes to allow the teams the time to prepare properly.
On Tuesday afternoon, owners of the 14 Premier League sides snubbed by the ESL met officials from the Premier League as well as the English game’s ruling body, the Football Association, to discuss possible sanctions against the breakaway six.
Hours after the Londoners and Manchester City said they were withdrawing, Jordan Henderson, the Liverpool skipper, posted a message on social media condemning his club’s position.
Former Liverpool player and manger Sir Kenny Dalglish urged the club to pull out.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khalaifi nailed his club’s colours to the mast of European football’s governing body Uefa.
“There is a clear need to evolve Uefa’s existing competition model,” said Al-Khelaïfi after his reelection to Uefa’s executive committee on Tuesday as a representative of the European Club Association.
“European soccer is at a pivotal moment, in which all stakeholders must work together, in good faith, to protect the sport we all love.”
Uefa boss Aleksandr Ceferin warned Chelsea and Manchester City – both Champions League semi-finalists – that they might be thrown out of this season’s competition if they persisted with the ESL.
City are due to play Paris Saint-Germain on 28 April at the Parc des Princes in the first leg of semi-final. Chelsea take on Real Madrid on 27 April.