Italian record champions Juventus insist they remain committed to a breakaway European Super League even after the withdrawal of six English teams late Tuesday threatened to turn the project into a farce.
“Between our clubs there is a blood pact, we will continue,” Juventus chief Andrea Agnelli to La Repubblica on Wednesday, saying the possibility of the plan succeeding was 100 per cent.
But Liverpool’s main owner John W Henry held his hands up and said in a club video he wanted “to apologize to all the fans and supporters … for the disruption I caused over the last 48 hours,” he said.
“It goes without saying but should be said, the project put forward was never going to stand without the support of the fans.”
Liverpool along with the rest of the English big six of Manchester City and United, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, said on Sunday they would join a breakaway league with Juventus, AC and Inter Milan, Barcelona, and Real and Atletico Madrid.
But in the face of overwhelming opposition from fans, governing bodies, politicians and even their own players, all six English teams withdrew within 48 hours while reports suggest the Milan duo, Atletico and Barcelona are also getting cold feet.
Agnelli called for dialogue with ruling body FIFA and European confederation UEFA but they have little need to make major concessions with the Super League now stalled.
German giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, and French side Paris Saint-Germain all rejected the chance to become permanent members of the league which would include five more teams through unspecified qualification each year.
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin reacted furiously to the announcement made just hours before the expansion of the Champions League from 2024 was confirmed and threatened to ban players from international football. Clubs also ran the risk of being kicked out of their domestic leagues.
The 53-year-old Slovene however appeared in the mood to move on quickly rather than consider recriminations.
“I said yesterday that it is admirable to admit a mistake and these clubs made a big mistake,” Ceferin said.
“But they are back in the fold now and I know they have a lot to offer not just to our competitions but to the whole of the European game.”
The European Super League itself said it would “reshape the project” after the English rethink.
“Given the current circumstances, we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project,” the Super League said in a statement cited by PA news agency.
Despite the mass departure of the English clubs, the Super League remained defiant in its aims to propose a new European competition, saying the “existing system does not work.”
“Our proposal is aimed at allowing the sport to evolve while generating resources and stability for the full football pyramid, including helping to overcome the financial difficulties experienced by the entire football community as a result of the [coronavirus] pandemic,” the statement said.