The formation of the European Super League came to light in April 2021 but collapsed just two days later with all six English teams pulling out following a furious backlash from players, fans and politicians – including Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Most of this stemmed from concerns about elitism and the lack of competitiveness within the competition, as it would have only involved high-ranking teams from a few European countries. Fans accused the clubs owners of “selling out”.
The increasing fury led to all six English teams, known as the ‘Big 6’ – Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur – withdrawing.
Italy’s AC Milan and Inter Milan, as well as Spain’s Atletico Madrid also pulled out, leaving just Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus remaining.
But Adriano Galliani, best known as vice-chairman and CEO of AC Milan from 1986 to 2017, a period in the club’s history known as the “Silvio Berlusconi era” when he owned the Italian giants, is hopeful the ESL can revived – but without English teams.
When asked if a European Super League could be the solution to a period of English football dominance, he told Italian sports magazine Tuttosport: “Yes, but without the English. There should also be a Brexit in football.”
Mr Galliani said the competition without the English teams involved would make it a “true European championship”
The Italian entrepreneur CEO of Italian top division club Monza also made reference to how the six English teams “fled” the ESL as a result of the furious backlash from fans.
He added: “Who would make the English give up 4 billion a year, plus stadiums that are always full?
“It would then be a true European championship, without the English.
“On the other hand, what do you think, that in April 2021 the English fled the Super League because the fans did not want to? But it goes! So that you don’t leave that economic situation.”
Prime Minister Mr Johnson had been the most high-profile figure to publicly condemn plans for the EU, raging it amounted to a “cartel”.
Speaking shortly before clubs made announcements to pull out of the competition, he used a Covid press conference to lash out at the proposed league, claiming it was “against the basic principles of competition” and “propelled by the billions of banks”.
The Prime Minister had promised at an earlier meeting to us a “legislative bomb” to scupper the breakaway competition if football authorities were unable to force the move on their own.
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On April 20, 2021, Mr Johnson told the Downing Street press conference football was “one of the great glories of this country’s cultural heritage.
He said: “How can it be right when you have a situation where you create a kind of cartel that stops clubs competing against each other?”
Two days earlier, as plans for the ESL came to light, the Prime minister had also taken to Twitter to launch a furious attack against the proposals.
He wrote: “Plans for a European Super League would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action.
“They would strike at the heart of the domestic game, and will concern fans across the country.
“The clubs involved must answer to their fans and the wider footballing community before taking any further steps.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.