Real Madrid president Florentino Perez insists the European Super League is not “dead” despite the competition collapsing just 48 hours after it was announced.
On Sunday, 12 clubs – the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’, plus Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan – confirmed they were planning to start the new midweek European competition.
However, the plans began to crumble on Tuesday, when Chelsea and Manchester City withdrew following a furious backlash from supporters, the Premier League and UEFA.
Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham then pulled out on Tuesday night, leaving Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli to admit on Wednesday morning that the Super League could no longer go ahead.
Inter Milan, AC Milan and Atletico also withdrew on Wednesday, but Perez – who was due to be the chairman of the league – remains bullish, telling Spanish radio show El Larguero: “If anyone thinks the Super League is dead, are they wrong? Absolutely.
“We’re going to keep working and what everyone thinks is for the best will emerge.
“The project is on standby. The Super League still exists.”
Sky Sports News reported on Tuesday morning that the Super League could collapse amid uncertainty among some of the six Premier League members over whether to continue with the plans.
That was confirmed when Chelsea and City became the first clubs to withdraw later that day. Perez admits one English club was not “convinced” and that their doubts became “contagious”.
“I’m a bit sad and disappointed because we’ve been working on this project for three years,” he said. “There was someone in the group of six English teams who wasn’t that interested and I think that started to become contagious among the others.
“There are people of a certain age involved and maybe they were scared because they didn’t understand anything that was going on. We all signed a binding contract, but I don’t think that one of them was ever convinced.
“In the end, there was an onslaught from the leagues and the Premier League got fired up, so they said, ‘we’ll leave it for now’.”
A joint statement from the English, Spanish and Italian FAs and leagues, plus UEFA, on Sunday threatened the 12 Super League clubs with expulsion from their domestic competitions and suggested their players could be banned from representing their countries.
Supporters also reacted with outrage, with Chelsea’s decision to backtrack coming amid protests outside Stamford Bridge ahead of their game against Brighton on Tuesday night.
Perez told El Larguero that “40 Chelsea fans” were protesting, adding, “I can tell you who got them there if you want.” However, he produced no evidence to substantiate his claims, and images from Stamford Bridge showed hundreds of supporters gathered to protest.
Perez believes the failure to establish the Super League will prevent the largest clubs from being able to afford the game’s biggest stars, saying: “As for signings like [Erling] Haaland or [Kylian] Mbappe, they won’t exist without the Super League.
“During the pandemic, they won’t exist for Real Madrid or for any club.”
However, Perez – who ushered in the ‘Galacticos’ era at Real during his first spell as president by signing the likes of Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham – then insisted Mbappe could still arrive at the Bernabeu.
“Does it mean we won’t sign Mbappe? No, I didn’t say that,” he said. “We’re now in the final stage of this season and want to finish it as strongly as possible.
“We don’t know. If Mbappe doesn’t join this year, nobody is going to shoot themselves.
“People know what I’m like and what I do. If something doesn’t happen, it’s because it’s not possible.
“As for big signings in the future without a Super League, they certainly won’t happen.”
Barcelona president Joan Laporta insists the ESL is ‘still a necessity’
Barcelona president Joan Laporta also maintained his support for the failed breakaway.
“It is absolutely necessary. The biggest clubs create the most financial resources and we must have our say in deciding how the earnings are shared,” he said.
Barcelona’s finances have been hard hit by the pandemic, which has compounded problems in a budget that was already loaded by the highest payroll in football last season.
Laporta, who previously served as Barcelona president from 2003-10, was re-elected to the post last month.
While campaigning, he said he was not in favour of the Super League, but his position changed after taking charge of the troubled club that faces more than €1billion debt.
“There have been pressures placed on some clubs, but the proposal is still standing,” he added.
“We have very important investments, our salaries are very high, and those must be taken into consideration, along with sporting merits.
“We are keeping a prudent stance, it is a necessity, but our club members will have the final word.”
The Insider: How Super League was doomed to fail
Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol…
There was a frantic race to be first to quit the European Super League (ESL) on Tuesday.
Manchester City were the first club to have serious doubts, quickly followed by Chelsea. There was a feeling that there was a small reputational benefit to be gained from being first to quit.
Chelsea were the first club to let it be known that they were leaving just before 7pm. At the same time, Man City were telling the ESL they were withdrawing and that was confirmed at 7.20pm. By then, the whole project was doomed.
The other clubs knew it was all over when Chelsea and City quit and during a series of phone calls, it was agreed that Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham would announce they were leaving at 11pm.
There is a lot of anger and recrimination inside the breakaway clubs and the majority of it is directed at the small group of owners and chief executives who tried to push this through. There are a lot of unhappy managers and a lot of unhappy players.
I’ve been told that it will be very difficult for some of the people who were behind this to go into meetings with the other 14 Premier League clubs because the trust has gone. Apologies and statements aren’t going to be enough.