Super League under pressure, but Agnelli says the “blood pact” is pushing ahead
© Reuters. A metal figure of a soccer player with a ball can be seen in front of the words “European Super League” in this illustration
LONDON (Reuters) – The European Super League coalition is set to collapse further on Wednesday. The Italian club Inter Milan is expected to be eliminated from the controversial breakaway competition along with the six English teams.
A source close to Inter Milan confirmed to Reuters that “given the latest developments” they were no longer interested in the project.
The departure of Inter would leave the ESL with only five teams: Juventus and AC Milan from Serie A as well as the Spanish teams Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Manchester City became the first to leave the company on Tuesday, before Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea followed suit.
Liverpool main owner John Henry apologized in a video on the club’s website and social media on Wednesday.
“It goes without saying, but it should be said that the proposed project would never last without the support of the fans,” he said.
“I am solely responsible for the unnecessary negativity that has been generated in the past few days. I will not forget that. And shows the power that the fans have today and that they rightly will continue to have.”
After generating a huge backlash from players, fans and football authorities, the Super League said late Tuesday it would rethink the project and try to “transform” it without throwing in the towel.
Juventus President Andrea Agnelli adopted a more defiant tone in an interview with an Italian newspaper, despite the fact that it was done before the Super League declaration.
“There is a blood pact among our clubs, we will continue,” Agnelli told la Repubblica when asked if the ESL would go under after the British withdrew.
“Yes, it has a 100% chance of being a success.”
The Super League had argued that it would increase revenue to the top clubs and allow them to distribute more money to the rest of the game.
However, the sport’s governing bodies, other teams and fan organizations said the runaway would only add power and prosperity to elite clubs and that the partially closed structure goes against the long-standing model of European football.
Agnelli said the threats from football authorities to ban Super League clubs from European competitions were “illegal” and Juventus players were not worried about them.
“What I fear more is a monopoly situation trying to prevent a company and its actors from exercising their freedom under the EU Treaty,” he said.
“We have to get out of this monopoly situation in which our regulators are our main competitors.”
Players, fans and experts celebrated the U-turn of the English teams, with some declaring the Super League dead in the water.
“This is the right result for football fans, clubs and communities across the country. We must continue to protect our cherished national game,” said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“What a beautiful day for football. Let’s keep playing, keep fighting, keep dreaming,” said Benjamin Mendy, Manchester City defender.
Anger lingered throughout the fans’ celebrations. Some experts said the owners of the English teams would never be forgiven and urged them to retire.
“They wanted to sell the souls of our big football institutions,” said Liverpool’s great Graeme Souness.
“I don’t know how these clubs will manage to get back on the site.”