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Super League implodes as Fenway Sports Group-owned Liverpool, other English teams pull out

Liverpool fans hung banners outside the team's Anfield Stadium protesting the Super League.
Liverpool fans hung banners outside the team's Anfield Stadium protesting the Super League.Peter Byrne/Associated Press

Liverpool Football Club decided it is not cut out to play the role of a rebel after all.

The Boston-owned football club executed an abrupt 180 and, along with the other English Premier League teams involved, deserted a bold European Super League plan it had been a proud signatory to less than 48 hours earlier.

Those two days featured a decidedly one-sided and fiercely hostile reception from anyone besides the 12 founding members — the six from England, plus three each from Spain and Italy.

Fans, managers, players, football governing bodies, and governments offered virtually no support for the plan. The reaction among Liverpool fans was particularly livid against its Fenway Sports Group ownership, which was perceived as acting out of its own self-interest and greed.

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The Super League’s stated goals were addressing economic injustices and inequities in European football, some of those issues created by the pandemic. Guaranteed yearly entry in a prestigious and lucrative tournament, however, as the Super League plan promised for its founding members, flew in the face of a fanbase rooted in working class values, and the notion that hard work means more than status and heritage.

Like its 11 other partners, Liverpool did not consult with its fans, coaches, or players in formulating the plan, which received initial and significant backing from American-based banking giant J.P. Morgan and initial interest from global broadcasters.

In a short, opaque and unsigned statement on its website, Liverpool waved the white flag.

“Liverpool Football Club can confirm that our involvement in proposed plans to form a European Super League has been discontinued,” it read, continuing to note the backlash. “In recent days, the club has received representations from various key stakeholders, both internally and externally, and we would like to thank them for their valuable contributions.”

A request for comment from Liverpool leadership — which includes FSG principal owner John Henry, who also owns Boston Globe Media Partners — did not receive an immediate response.

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Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham, and Chelsea all released similar statements on Tuesday. Following that, as well as Italy’s Inter Milan also departing according to reports, a top Super League official confirmed to the New York Times the entire project had been suspended.

A statement purportedly from the league’s remaining founders said in part that “we shall consider 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.”

Chelsea's former star goalkeeper Petr Cech, right, tries to calm fans protesting against Chelsea's decision to be included amongst the clubs attempting to form a new European Super League on Tuesday.
Chelsea's former star goalkeeper Petr Cech, right, tries to calm fans protesting against Chelsea's decision to be included amongst the clubs attempting to form a new European Super League on Tuesday.Matt Dunham/Associated Press

It further noted a preliminary ruling from a Spanish mercantile court judge — on request of the Super League — stopping world soccer body FIFA and European organizer UEFA from taking any immediate action or making statements against the plan.

“We are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations,” it said.

It further emphasizes the concept of the Super League has reared its head before and could one day again, given how many of the sport’s superpowers believe they do not receive appropriate shares of the considerable revenues their sport generates on the European continent.

The Super League would have provided a consistent, reliable gusher of annual revenues to its 15 founding members, who would be joined by five other clubs who would have to earn their way in each year.

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Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Michael Silverman can be reached at michael.silverman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeSilvermanBB.