UK Football

how the plans unfolded and then collapsed

It took years of planning and little more than 48 hours to be demolished.

It takes something absolutely monumental to make the sacking of Jose Mourinho seem insignificant, but that’s exactly what the announcement of the Super League was.

The much-maligned breakaway competition threatened to jeopardise football as we know it, with 15 of Europe’s biggest clubs planning to create an event to rival the Champions League in which only five other clubs would be allowed to qualify for.

Unless you’ve recently lost your phone, don’t have access to a television, haven’t got a radio, don’t read newspapers and basically had no contact with the outside world, you probably know by now that’s it’s all gone down the pan.

So, if the last few days are feeling like a blur and you’re not actually sure what went on, here’s a look back at how it all unfolded…

The news that shook the footballing world was announced on Sunday evening, with the words ‘Super League’ now forever etched into our memory.

12 clubs were confirmed as ‘founder members’ of the Super League – meaning they would be ever-present in the competition regardless of how well they performed – an aspect of the event which undoubtedly caused the most uproar.

With 15 clubs expected to be announced it remained to be seen who else would take part in the Super League, though the reason they were three short of the expected total soon became clear as events began to unfold…

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge's Bayern Munich were one of the three clubs to refuse the offer
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s Bayern Munich were one of the three clubs to refuse the offer | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Not 24 hours since the competition was announced, already cracks were beginning to show.

With just three countries represented in the 12 confirmed participants – England, Spain and Italy – the term ‘European Super League’ seemed somewhat misleading. As it happens, two other countries had expected to have participants joining, though Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich all signalled their intention not to join the league.

While the French and German clubs declining the offer was a start there was still plenty more to do, and both UEFA and FIFA didn’t hold it back in dishing out potential punishments.

There was talk of three of this season’s four teams in the Champions League semi-final being expelled from the competition due to their involvement, while the sides remaining in the Europa League were threatened with the same punishment.

It wasn’t just club level football that looked like being impacted, with the threat of players playing in the Super League being barred from international tournaments in the future, meaning the likes of Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling among others wouldn’t appear for England at the upcoming Euro 2020 finals.

Jurgen Klopp did not seem fond of the idea
Jurgen Klopp did not seem fond of the idea | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Liverpool’s trip to Leeds on Monday night offered us a first opportunity to see players and managers put on the spot when asked about the proposal, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

Jurgen Klopp was first up and while he didn’t exactly tear the idea apart – explaining why his side weren’t wearing the same anti-Super League shirts as Leeds during their warm-up – he did accept he’d previously said he didn’t like the idea.

Both James Milner and Patrick Bamford were far more black and white with their replies during their post-match interviews, while Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville’s Monday Night Football appearance was certainly, erm, entertaining.

Late in the night, the shameless Florentino Perez appeared on El Chiringuito TV to explain that none of the aforementioned threats from UEFA or FIFA would be carried out and he claimed the Super League would save football.

Boris Johnson threatened legal action against the idea
Boris Johnson threatened legal action against the idea | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Fans and pundits all over the world voicing their displeasure was one thing, but the big-hitters really arrived on Tuesday morning.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with a number of fan groups to discuss the impact the Super League could have on English football, and he assured the groups that the competition’s plans wouldn’t go ahead.

Johnson then threatened legal action should the six English clubs push on with the proposal, with culture secretary Oliver Dowden telling the House of Commons “we [the government] will put everything on the table to prevent this from happening”.

A protest outside Stamford Bridge threatened to impact Chelsea's game with Brighton
A protest outside Stamford Bridge threatened to impact Chelsea’s game with Brighton | Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

The outrage had already made headlines all over the world by this point, though Tuesday night really started to see things fall apart.

Chelsea’s fixture with Brighton was in threat after hundreds of Blues fans gathered outside the Stamford Bridge gates and threatened to block the access of the team bus. Legendary Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech had to remonstrate with the fans before they eventually gave way with kick-off delayed because of the protests.

The game with Brighton seemed to pale into insignificance given the turmoil Chelsea found themselves in, and shortly after the final whistle it all came tumbling down…

After news broke of Chelsea and Manchester City beginning to rethink their involvement in the Super League, the domino effect began as a number of clubs announced their withdrawal from the competition.

All six English sides announced they would no longer be competing in the Super League, with three of the remaining six teams following suit over the coming hours.

Only Ronald Koeman and Zinedine Zidane's sides remain
Only Ronald Koeman and Zinedine Zidane’s sides remain | LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

And so the clean up began.

Liverpool owner John Henry was forced to issue an apology for his decision to pursue his Super league dream, coneding he’d made a huge mistake in signing up for the competition.

While Serie A giants Milan and Inter both withdrew, Juventus took a somewhat different approach, releasing a statement which didn’t rule them out but conceded the competition could not go ahead in its current form.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are the only two clubs still standing – unsurprising given the former’s mounting debts and the latter’s president being chairman of the Super League – though it remains to be seen whether they will be forced to withdraw.

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