‘They haven’t left’: Super League not done yet, says Perez

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 Perez said on Thursday.

Perez, 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.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez says the Super League is not dead yet.Credit:AP

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

“We are going to keep working,” Perez 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 (Monday AEST) but essentially folded after the English clubs involved in the project pulled out Tuesday amid escalating backlash from their supporters and warnings from the British government that legislation could be introduced to thwart them.

On Wednesday, Atletico 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.



Perez 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.”

Perez 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,” Perez 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 (local time), the teams that dropped out on Wednesday admitted defeat but tried to show they still believe in the project.

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said the whole controversy would eventually help soccer.

“When a movement like this happens, things end up changing, I have no doubt,” Simeone said. “All sides will have to eventually reach an agreement.”

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

There was some internal pressure on the Catalan club, however, after outspoken captain Gerard Pique made his view clear.

“Football belongs to the fans. Today more than ever,” he wrote on Twitter.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman avoided the subject but said he “agreed with” Pique’s tweet.

There were protests against the Super League during Wednesday’s Spanish league matches, with players entering the field wearing T-shirts condemning the new competition.

On Monday, UEFA threatened to ban players from the participating teams from playing in this year’s European Championship and next year’s World Cup. A Madrid court later issued a preliminary ruling stopping UEFA, FIFA and its members from acting against the creation of the new league.

The Super League was intended to be a 20-team competition with 15 founding members guaranteed a spot every season and five other teams rotating in and out. The lack of relegation for the founding members raised concerns about the consequences for smaller clubs in the domestic leagues around the continent.

Perez said the group was ready to discuss changes.

“We will keep working and talking to everyone,” he said. “We are open to whatever is best for soccer.”

City, Spurs get wins

A tough week for Manchester City and Tottenham, two of the rebel clubs, got even more difficult when they fell behind on their return to Premier League action on Thursday (AEST).

Both teams recovered to register vital wins and leave them in good spirits for their next match – their meeting at Wembley Stadium for the English League Cup final this weekend.

City fought back from conceding a goal after just 20 seconds to beat Aston Villa 2-1 and move 11 points clear in their march to a third league title in four years. A maximum of eight points are needed by Pep Guardiola’s team from its final five games.

Each side had a man sent off at Villa Park, with City defender John Stones’ straight red card for a reckless lunge late in the first half ruling him out for three matches, starting with the cup final.

Tottenham needed a 90th-minute penalty from Son Heung-min to clinch a 2-1 victory over Southampton and close to within two points of fourth-placed Chelsea in the race for Champions League qualification.

AP

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