The Super League Timeline: How the Fans Made History

Sunday, April 18th - The Early Reports

It was a regular Sunday afternoon, with everyone glued to Sky Sports' Super Sunday as Arsenal were hosting Fulham. However, this historic Sunday also saw early reports from The Times, where it emerged once again that leading European clubs were attempting to form an allegiance, just like what was reported earlier in the season when attempting to form Project Big Picture.

This time, however, it was reported with slightly more conviction and at a time where we knew it could be true due to the nature of the world and the scale of the report itself. Details gradually emerged, with countless media outlets reporting the news too, and fans of all areas began to get seriously worried as Sky Sports picked up on the news live on air, which in itself was concerning, as they normally would have been part of something this big.

The Times reported that 12 'Founding Clubs' would group together to form this league, and the early reports spiralled into pandemonium across social media from fans and pundits as we started to realise this was more than just news, but a reality.

Sunday, April 18th - The reactions begin

The Super Sunday on Sky Sports was marred with this coverage. Gary Neville even stated live on commentary that he "couldn't concentrate" on the Manchester United v Burnley fixture, and in truth, the game became meaningless and close to insulting immediately after the reports emerged.

The half time coverage, the post-match discussions, every word on social media related to the Super League. By this point, around four hours after the initial reports, it was clear this was not just a potential in the works, but the future.

Then, things became extremely real and unspeakably fearful. The Premier League, UEFA, Serie A, La Liga and all governing bodies who were under threat at this proposed league released statements attacking the intent of the ESL in what can only be described as one of, if not the, biggest fiasco in modern football history.

UEFA stated it would take "all measures" possible to stop the "cynical project", whilst Boris Johnson supported the sports authorities "in taking action", which at a time of national crisis, spoke a thousand words in itself.

Within just a few hours after the first report, football had grouped together to fight back and it truly was one of the most astonishing spectacles to see such powerful figures like the UK Government and the Premier League get involved, as well as the country's leading sports networks, Sky Sports and BT Sport.

Sunday, April 18th - It Becomes Official

The Super League was a disaster. The owners must have known this wouldn't have worked well with fans because there was no easing into the news, no videos released, no build-up, no nothing. It was as simple as an early report from The Times, widespread anger from the community afterwards, to eventually seeing all 12 clubs releasing a statement on being a 'Founding Club' just before Sunday became Monday.

The timing was essential for them. They knew this was sly and greedy, hence why the official announcement came whilst most of us were in bed at 23:00 BST. The timing was utterly, utterly extraordinary and the moment the clubs involved released their statements, broken hearts and gut-wrenching emotions poured out as we truly thought this was the end of football.

The ESL statement came out too, as well as their slick new website where they stated the league would "commence as soon as practicable". Nothing would be said for the remainder of Sunday, besides reaction from the community until the morning after.

Monday, April 19th - The ESL begins its movement

Now that Europe was awake around 7:30am, the ESL had become official. It had now become clear that whilst the world was in disarray from the pandemic, the owners of these 12 clubs were going behind the backs of fans and plotting a new way to make a serious amount of cash.

ESL contacted FIFA and UEFA presidents Gianni Infantino (FIFA) and Aleksander Ceferin (UEFA) to issue a notice of legal proceedings in European courts which were designed to block any sanctions the two leading governing bodies would no doubt try to enforce over the formation of the ESL. In other words, the ESL clubs knew this was wrong, but tried everything to keep FIFA and UEFA quiet.

By this point there was nothing but fear. Fear that these owners had plotted the most unbelievable deal in sports history and that we had no way of stopping them, despite the entire world turning against them. But when Manchester United's vice-chairman Ed Woodward and Ferran Soriano of Manchester City stepped down from their roles at UEFA, it felt like the deal was signed, sealed and about to be officially delivered, because why else would they leave such a high role?

Monday, April 19th - The Fight Back Begins

As mentioned, this came out of nowhere. The owners involved tried to make this a simple process of releasing a statement and hoping it would fade away, but the fightback began immediately from fans, players, ex-players, managers, clubs sharing the same league, TV companies, governing bodies and so on. In other words, the entire world turned against these 12 clubs within a matter of hours, mainly due to how quickly things were released, forcing everyone to take action rapidly.

"A spit in the face of football lovers," said Ceferin. In fact, the UEFA president's words will echo in football eternity and they might just be the most descriptive and informing words ever spoken by a leading name in the sport.

"We might be naive in not knowing we have snakes close to us," UEFA's leading man stated, as he called Juventus owner Andrea Agnelli a "liar" to the world - something we had never witnessed said from a governing body in this sport.

At the same time, as was already planned for months, the new format for the Champions League from 2024 was announced, with 36 teams in one league, each team playing 10 matches. This would have been met with fury in itself, but concentration at this point was on fighting against the ESL, not UEFA.

This also amplified just how sly the owners were, as they knew exactly when to announce this new league to try and devalue UEFA's new movement.

Monday, April 19th - The clubs and players join in

What ultimately caused the fall down of the ESL was the players who came back and fought. It started with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Ander Herrera, whilst Premier League clubs, Bundesliga clubs and many more released their statements to fight back.

However, at the same time, reports were growing on Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich potentially joining the league, with the ESL making it clear from the start that there were three other 'Founding Clubs' who were yet to be officially announced.

PSG president, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, did deny he turned down the chance to replace Agnelli as chairman of the ECA because PSG were considering joining the ESL, which can now be seen as the first sign of hope in the fight back.

Monday, April 19th - MNF's most famous episode and the Premier League's first game

Liverpool travelled to Leeds on April 19th, as the Reds were attempting to close the gap on the top four and seal a Champions League spot for next year. However, with the proposed Super League and UEFA stating all participants would not be able to compete in UEFA competitions, the game became completely meaningless.

Leeds United players would also all don the 'Earn It' shirts, alluding to the fact you should earn the right to play in Europe and against the most prestigious teams on the continent.

Jurgen Klopp, who strongly disapproved of a Super League back in 2019, ironically, had to become the first man to speak on the matter once again as his pre-match interview was marred by the stunning news. Klopp stated his opinion never changed, whilst James Milner stated he doesn't want the league to go ahead in his post-match interview too.

In the end, Monday Night Football became a four-hour discussion on the topic, with Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher rallying the millions of fans around the country, stating everyone from BT Sport to Sky Sports and non-league to the Premier League need to fight back and they did.

Tuesday, April 20th - Perez Makes it Clear

After going to bed with sadness on Sunday, to a long and fearful Monday, a lot of us seemingly went to sleep that infamous Monday night following Liverpool v Leeds with a lot more hope than beforehand, as it truly looked as if the world of football would rally together and be powerful enough to stop this.

The leader behind this atrocious act was Florentino Perez, the chairman of the new league and the president of Real Madrid since 2009. He made his first appearance since the news broke on Sunday on Monday on Spanish TV. Perez claimed that they were "doing this to save football at this critical moment" and that "young people are no longer interested in football", alluding to the simple fact that clubs had lost ridiculous amounts of money during the pandemic and these owners wanted a way to get that back, and nothing else.

The ESL's chairman would also state how "the law protects us" from UEFA and FIFA potentially banning clubs and players, which once again, shocked football to the core, as it truly looked like these people and this league might be unstoppable with such strong legal advice.

Tuesday, April 20th - The Premier League meeting and more reactions

The seriousness took another step when the 14 clubs not in the ESL met together to discuss how to tackle this issue, concluding that all 14 clubs "unanimously and vigorously rejected" plans for the Super League and how they were "considering all actions available to prevent it from progressing". At this point, sanctions and potential bans from the Premier League itself were believed to be a serious and likely option for England's top flight.

The heroic figure of Marcus Rashford would come out next with nothing but a tweet of Sir Matt Busby's famous quote on football being nothing without fans, before the likes of Luke Shaw, Kevin De Bruyne and other leading names started their fightback too.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson was next, and he called for all Premier League captains to group together to start the next step of the fight, and by this point, fans began to get really confident in a potential collapse of the league, as the players involved were now not happy with the ESL. Ultimately, this was the downfall.

Tuesday, April 20th - The collapse at the Bridge

At around 17:00 BST, Bayern Munich officially announced they would not be taking part in the ESL, which seemed to be the tipping point for this almighty collapse.

By this point, up and down the UK, fans had shown their dismay and the moment a couple of Chelsea fans turned into a few hundred outside Stamford Bridge, the cracks really began to show.

As the Brighton and Chelsea players were warming up, Petr Cech showed up outside Stamford Bridge to try and prevent any rioting and potential chaos ensuing. At the same time, reports grew on Chelsea withdrawing from the competition with the Blues chairman, Bruce Buck, looking in disarray and glued to his phone in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

Players would then come out across the Premier League in support of the disbanding of the league, and after the game, the news was made official that Manchester City would be leaving the European Super League. After this, United, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal would release statements within seconds of each other, concluding the official withdrawal of Premier League clubs from the proposed league.

By this point, the fans had won. It was historic.

Wednesday, April 21st - The Finale

Although Chelsea were the first reported team to leave the ESL, they were the last to make it official as they released their statement at around 01:00 BST on Wednesday, April 21st.

Whilst happiness around the globe was ensuing with the football fans winning within just two days. Ceferin later stated all clubs were "back in the fold", and adding: "The important thing now is that we move on, rebuild the unity that the game enjoyed before this and move forward together."

Move on they may, but fines and potential deducted points could still happen, but to avoid any more threats to leave and change the sport as we know it, it's likely UEFA and FIFA will just move on too.

Later on in the day at 10:34 BST, Atletico Madrid became the first club outside of the Premier League to leave, before Inter Milan also joined in with a statement of their own an hour later.

Quite stunningly, but also unsurprisingly, Real Madrid and Barcelona have still not left the ESL officially, meaning the league is actually still going ahead as it stands. Although, it's fair to say, it will not.

At the same time, Juventus stated: "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. Juventus remains committed to pursuing the creation of long-term value for the Company and the entire football industry"

In other words, they are down and out but refuse to accept it.

Wednesday, April 21st - is this it?

Was this just the worst PR move in sports history? Was this just the owners being completely out of touch and realising this was a big mistake? Yes to both, but in truth, this was more than just from the rich to get even richer - this was the start of the end for some of these owners.

The controversial Ed Woodward has been the first casualty of the ESL, and although it was believed he would leave the club anyway at the end of 2021, no doubt this was pushed forward due to the ongoing drama behind the scenes.

In a statement released at 07:30 BST from the ESL, it said: "Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due to the pressure put on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations as was demonstrated today by a court decision to protect the Super League from third-party actions."

So whilst this is over in the eyes of anyone with brains, for Perez, Agnelli and those seriously trying to push this through, it is not. In fact, things may just get uglier from here. No doubt mass boycotts of all kinds will continue with season ticket holders, shirt sales, merchandise, fan-club interaction and love will all hit their lowest in years. At the same time, owners of the clubs will need to earn back the millions they've lost in setting this league up and the millions they've lost in getting out of it during a climate where they've already been in financial disarray, all of which could force the owners to be even more strict.

On the other hand, fans will only fight back even more. This is not the end, and perhaps just the start of mass boycotting around Europe. It is, however, the end of the Super League, no matter what Perez states.


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