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European Super League: PM hails withdrawal of England clubs as plans hang in the balance
21 April 2021, 08:25 | Updated: 21 April 2021, 11:13
The Prime Minister has hailed the withdrawal of English football clubs from the proposed European Super League as the controversial plans begin to fall apart.
Boris Johnson said it was "the right result for football fans" after days of Government pressure on the 'big six' Premier League clubs to back out.
The PM yesterday refused to rule out legislative action to prevent the clubs from forming the elite league and joined widespread condemnation from fans, players, managers and football's top governing bodies.
He tweeted: "I welcome last night's announcement.
"This is the right result for football fans, clubs, and communities across the country. We must continue to protect our cherished national game."
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said yesterday that measures including preventing players from the clubs involved getting work visas and the withdrawal of police funding for match days were under consideration.
Manchester City and Chelsea announced their decisions to leave the new league on Tuesday evening - shortly followed by Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester United - less than three days after it was announced.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden also hailed the decision and told LBC it was a "real day for fans" of the sport.
He said: "What owners need to remember is that they are temporary custodians of our game and our national heritage - something that goes back over a century and that's why I and the Prime Minister were so determined to stand behind those fans to do whatever it took to stop these measures."
He vowed to push on with a fan-led review into the management and governance of football.
Mr Dowden added: "I think it's really important that we don't just say 'well this is over with, forget about it' - I announced on Monday that [former Sports Minister] Tracy Crouch will be leading this fan-led review that will essentially look at finance, it will look at governance and it will look at the fan experience of football."
Meanwhile in Spain, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are also said to be stepping down from the plans for the breakaway competition.
Four out of the twelve original clubs remain signed up to the Super League, including Spanish giants Real Madrid - whose president Florentino Perez chairs the breakaway organisation - and Barcelona.
Founder and Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli admitted on Wednesday morning that plans can longer go ahead.
Asked by Reuters if the project could continue without the Premier League clubs, he said: "To be frank and honest no, evidently that is not the case."
LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid - a major player - decided to withdraw after the comments, shortly followed by Serie A outfit Inter Milan.
The Super League's executives have now promised to "reshape the project" following the major blow but warned the proposal is legally protected from "third party actions" after seeking confirmation in court on Tuesday.
In a statement, the league said: "Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due to the pressure put on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations as was demonstrated today by a court decision to protect the Super League from third party actions.
"Given the current circumstances, we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project, always having in mind our goals of offering fans the best experience possible while enhancing solidarity payments for the entire football community."