Chelsea and Manchester City are set to withdraw from proposals for a European Super League (ESL) on Tuesday after a furious backlash against the controversial plan
Chelsea and City were two of 12 leading European clubs to sign up to the breakaway league on Monday.
But reaction to the incendiary scheme has been scathing, with politicians and football authorities threatening to take legal action against the so-called “dirty dozen” and ban their players from representing their national teams.
Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid were the other 10 sides to agree to the plan.
Chelsea and City’s decision to backtrack could spark the quick collapse of a project that provoked outrage across the continent.
The Athletic and the BBC reported that Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has resigned.
United’s share price on the New York stock exchange fell to below its valuation before news of the ESL broke after a jump on Monday.
Earlier on Tuesday, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin told the clubs it was not too late to admit they had made a mistake.
“Gentlemen, you made a huge mistake,” said Ceferin.
“Some will say it is greed, some complete ignorance of England’s football culture. There’s still time to change your mind. Everyone makes mistakes.”
Over 1,000 fans gathered outside Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium to protest against the plan ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League match against Brighton.
Former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, now the club’s technical advisor, had come out of the stadium in a bid to persuade fans to clear the roads as the team buses were held up by the protest, causing kick-off to be delayed by 15 minutes.
Cech was heard shouting “give us time” before being drowned out by angry protesters.
But there were huge cheers of celebration when fans received the news that Chelsea are preparing documentation to withdraw from the competition.
The BBC reported that Blues owner Roman Abramovich is understood to have driven the decision.
In response to reports that Premier League leaders City will withdraw, a club spokesperson said: “We cannot comment for legal reasons.”
The 20-team competition was designed by the European giants to guarantee revenue from regular matches against one another without the risk of failing to qualify for 15 founder members.
The 12 teams had signed up to share an initial pot of over 3.5 billion euros ($4 billion, £3 billion).
However, the plan was fiercely criticised by even their own players and managers for acting as a closed shop.
“It’s not a sport when the relation between effort and reward doesn’t exist,” said Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.
“It’s not a sport when success is already guaranteed, it’s not a sport if it doesn’t matter if you lose.”
Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford shared an image on Twitter of one of the banners which covers the stands at Old Trafford.
The banner carries a quote from the club’s legendary former manager Sir Matt Busby, which reads: “Football is nothing without fans”.