London, Apr 20 (EFE).- Manchester City announced Tuesday that they will be pulling out of the European Super League, a controversial new competition that has been criticized by much of the soccer community and beyond.
City are following in the footsteps of London club Chelsea, who also are taking legal steps to withdraw from that new international competition formally announced two days ago.
“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,” the club said.
Following the exits of those elite Premier League sides, four English clubs – Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham – remain committed to the new league that also includes Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan.
According to British sports radio station talkSPORT, the ESL’s 12 founding members are planning to discuss their next steps in a meeting on Tuesday evening.
The Premier League, The Football Association (The FA) and the 14 top-division English clubs not involved in plans for the hypothetical ESL on Tuesday said they would consider “all options” to prevent the proposed elite league from going ahead.
“The League will continue to work with key stakeholders including fan groups, Government, UEFA, The FA, EFL, PFA and LMA to protect the best interests of the game and call on those clubs involved in the proposed competition to cease their involvement immediately,” the Premier League said in a statement.
The announcement of the new competition late Sunday night also sparked an immediate backlash from English pundits and fans, with critics slamming the initiative as purely financially driven and one that would be damaging to the sport at its grassroots level.
FIFA and its six continental confederations, including UEFA, have all spoken out strongly against the initiative.
FIFA sought to nip the idea in the bud in January when it warned that any club or player involved in a proposed super league would be barred from international competitions, including World Cup tournaments and UEFA European Football Championships (Euros).
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin reiterated that threat on Monday.
The head coaches of Liverpool and Manchester City, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, respectively, both criticized the non-competitive aspects of the proposed 20-team ESL, referring to the fact that the 12 founding members and three other clubs to join later would be permanent fixtures in the league and never face the possibility of relegation.
The prime minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, an early critic of the plan, said for his part in a meeting with Premier League and FA representatives Tuesday that “no action is off the table” and that his government is considering legislative avenues to thwart the ESL.
Separately, a court in Madrid on Tuesday handed down a ruling barring any action that blocks plans for implementing the ESL.
The decision was aimed at barring FIFA, the continental confederations and domestic soccer leagues from taking any direct or indirect actions aimed at crippling the ESL or retaliatory measures against the participating clubs or their players and executives.
It remains unclear, however, what authority that Spanish commercial court has over organizations such as FIFA and UEFA, both of whose headquarters are located in Switzerland. EFE