MANCHESTER (Reuters) – Manchester City started the process of withdrawing from the breakaway European Super League on Tuesday less than 72 hours after agreeing to join, with Chelsea also reported to be quitting in a major blow for the proposed new competition.
City confirmed they wanted to pull out while fellow English club Chelsea were reported by local media to be preparing the paperwork to leave a project backed by U.S. investment bank JP Morgan and headed by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
Twelve of Europe’s top football clubs had announced on Sunday they were launching a breakaway Super League in the face of widespread opposition from within the game and beyond.
However, the sport’s governing bodies, other teams and fan organisations said it would increase the power and wealth of the elite clubs and the partially closed structure of the league goes against European football’s long-standing model.
“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 Premier League club said in a statement.
The BBC reported that London club Chelsea were also set to pull out of the Super League following protests outside their stadium by fans on Tuesday before a Premier League match.
Adding to the sense of disarray, Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, one of the key players in the breakaway move, tendered his resignation to the club.
The president of European soccer’s governing body UEFA, Aleksander Ceferin, was quick to welcome City’s decision.
“I am delighted to welcome City back to the European football family,” he said.
“They have shown great intelligence in listening to the many voices – most notably their fans – that have spelled out the vital benefits that the current system has for the whole of European football.
“It takes courage to admit a mistake but I have never doubted that they had the ability and common sense to make that decision,” he added.
The Super League organisation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.