Super League backer says breakaway competition is on standby

MADRID (AP) — The Super League is far from dead and its clubs have not given up on the idea of the breakaway competition despite having to shelve the project just a few days after it was announced, Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez said yesterday.

Pérez, who would have been the new league’s founding chairman, said the clubs behind the Super League will continue working on a way to make the competition work, even if changes have to be made to its format.

He said the Super League is on “standby” and the group is open to discussing ideas with European football’s governing body and other entities to help the game amid the coronavirus pandemic. Pérez said he was certain that a “very similar” competition would soon be created.

“We are going to keep working,” Pérez told Spanish radio network SER in an interview after midnight local time.

“We are looking for ways of getting this done. It would be a shame not to get it done.”

The Super League was announced on Sunday but essentially folded after the English clubs involved in the project pulled out on Tuesday amid escalating backlash from their supporters and warnings from the British government that legislation could be introduced to thwart them.

On Wednesday, Atlético Madrid and the three Italian clubs in the project – Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan – also opted out.

That left Real Madrid and Barcelona as the only clubs still officially in the new league.

Pérez said no one was really leaving, though.

“They haven’t left,” the Madrid president said. “We are all still together, thinking of ways of making this happen.”

Pérez admitted that they should have explained the project better, and said he was “sad and disappointed” with the “avalanche of aggressive” and “orchestrated” criticism that surfaced everywhere.

“Each president was prepared to speak, but then the next day we got killed,” Pérez said. “We weren’t expecting it.

“It was like we had launched an atomic bomb. It looked like that they already knew about it and were waiting for us.”

He said one of the English clubs was not really interested in the project from the start and that was “contagious” for the rest of the Premier League owners who were afraid of the criticism at home.

The English clubs initially involved in the project were Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham.

While some Premier League clubs apologised to their fans while pulling back on Tuesday, the teams which dropped out on Wednesday admitted defeat but tried to show they still believe in the project.

“While Juventus remains convinced of the soundness of the project’s sport, commercial and legal premises, it believes that at present there are limited chances that the project be completed in the form originally conceived,” the Italian club said.

“Juventus remains committed to pursuing the creation of long-term value for the Company and the entire football industry.”

AC Milan said the “voices and the concerns of fans around the world have clearly been expressed”, but the club “will continue to work hard to deliver a sustainable model” for football.

Barcelona was the only team yet to comment, though its presence was always dependent on a vote by its general assembly.