Chelsea have decided to begin the process of pulling out of the proposed European Super League, sources confirmed to ESPN’s James Olley.
Chelsea’s decision was first reported by the BBC.
The development comes ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League match against Brighton on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge.
The reserval is a stunning U-turn for the London club following Sunday’s announcement that it was among 12 of Europe’s biggest football clubs planning to break away from the UEFA Champions League.
Those 12 clubs — Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus — have insisted the ESL will provide greater financial support for the football pyramid with a planned €10 billion in solidarity payments to non-participating clubs to be distributed over an initial 23-year period.
The Super League organisers, headed by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, had said they hoped to add three more founding members before launching their competition “as soon as practicable.”
A group of Chelsea players went to chairman Bruce Buck to say they were opposed to the proposed league, sources told Olley.
Several hundred fans gathered outside Stamford Bridge hours before kick-off to voice their opposition to the club’s plan to sign up to the new competition.
Technical and performance director Petr Cech was caught on camera pleading with supporters to let the team bus enter the ground as fans blocked their access to the stadium.
News then filtered through that the Blues were drawing up documentation to reverse their decision to join, prompting cheers and chants of “we’ve saved football” from the fans who had been moved around 300 yards away from the stadium’s main entrance point.
Unlike the Champions League competition, where teams have to qualify through their domestic league, the founding Super League teams would guarantee themselves a place in the new competition every year.
UEFA has warned it may impose sanctions against clubs and players who take part in the breakaway competition while UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government have been quick to condemn the notion of the Super League.
This is a developing story…