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Timeline: European Super League’s rise and fall – in two and a half days | European Super League

It has been an extraordinary two days in football. Here is how the European Super League story unfolded.

Sunday 18 April

1pm The Times’ Martyn Ziegler publishes a story saying that five English clubs have signed up to a 20-team European Super League. Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur are on board, it says, with only Manchester City of the Big Six holding out.

2pm Reports start to emerge that City too are on board for a league that will have 15 permanent members, including Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, Juventus, Inter and Milan, with the 15 “founder clubs” sharing an initial €3.5bn “infrastructure grant”. An announcement is expected at 9.30pm.

5pm There is an immediate fan backlash as the news travels around the world. Gary Neville is widely praised for his brutal assessment of the clubs joining the league and in particular his former club, Manchester United, as well as Liverpool. “They’re breaking away to a competition they can’t be relegated from? It’s an absolute disgrace,” he says. “It’s pure greed, they’re impostors. The owners of Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City have nothing to do with football in this country.”

8.30pm The UK government expresses its displeasure over the plans, saying that “plans for a European Super League would be very damaging for football and we support football authorities in taking action”.

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11pm Clubs begin to announce that they are going to be part of the new Super League, which is set to start in August. The clubs post the same statement on their websites, announcing that Real Madrid’s Florentino Pérez will be the president. “We will help football at every level and take it to its rightful place in the world,” he says.

Real Madrid’s Florentino Pérez
Real Madrid’s Florentino Pérez: ‘We will help football at every level.’ Photograph: Claude Paris/AP

Monday 19 April

8am The backlash against the Super League continues with major supporter organisations hitting out at the clubs involved. The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust writes: “They say expect the unexpected, but today the CST, our members and football supporters across the world have experienced the ultimate betrayal.”

9am The Super League sends a letter to the presidents of Fifa and Uefa issuing notice of legal proceedings in European courts designed to block any sanctions the two governing bodies may try to enforce.

9am Representatives from the Super League clubs start to leave the European Club Association, including Manchester United’s Ed Woodward and Juventus’s Andrea Agnelli.

10am Borussia Dortmund say that they and Bayern Munich are not going to be part of the new breakaway league with RB Leipzig later joining them in that stance. PSG are yet to comment but are understood to be out too.

11am PSG’s Ander Herrera becomes the first top player to speak out against the plan, saying he “cannot remain silent” about the project. Mesut Özil, Arsène Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson also condemn the plans.

Ander Herrera was the first top player to speak out
Ander Herrera was the first top player to speak out. Photograph: JE E/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

2pm The Uefa president, Aleksander Ceferin, condemns the “disgraceful” clubs and reiterates that players who participate in the new competition will not be allowed to represent their countries in the Euros and the World Cup. He hits out at Woodward and Agnelli in particular, saying: “We didn’t know we had snakes so close to us, now we know.”

5pm The UK government says it will do “whatever it takes” to stop English clubs from joining the new league. Football authorities have “a wide range of sanctions and measures”, and the full backing of ministers, the culture secretary Oliver Dowden says.

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7pm Jürgen Klopp, speaking before Liverpool’s game against Leeds, says he does not like the idea of a Super League and that he “doesn’t want it to happen”. James Milner agrees with his manager in a post-match interview saying that he and the other players are against it.

9pm Pérez appears on Spanish TV saying that the Super League is here to “save football”. He adds that clubs are on “edge of ruin”, adding that “by 2024 we’re dead”. He adds that matches in the Super League may be shorter and that “everything I do is for the good of football, which is in a critical moment”.

Tuesday 20 April

10am Everton become the first club of the “other 14” to release a statement condemning the Super League clubs. “This preposterous arrogance is not wanted anywhere in football outside of the clubs that have drafted this plan,” it said. “On behalf of everyone associated with Everton, we respectfully ask that the proposals are immediately withdrawn.”

11am The first cracks begin to appear as the Guardian’s Sean Ingle reports that two clubs, Chelsea and Manchester City, are wavering about joining the Super League while the Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, says that the governing body strongly disapproves of the breakaway league.

1.30pm The Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, voices his anger over the competition his club has signed up for, saying: “It is not a sport where the relation between the effort and the success, the effort and the reward, does not exist. It is not a sport where success is already guaranteed or it is not a sport when it doesn’t matter where you lose.”

4pm Chelsea fans start to gather outside Stamford Bridge before the game against Brighton to protest against the club’s participation in the Super League, having demanded that their banners inside the stadium are taken down and have prepared new ones such as “RIP Chelsea FC (1905-2021)“ and “Buck Off Super League”.

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Former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, at right, behind a line of policemen, tries to calm down fans protesting outside Stamford Bridge
Former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, at right, behind a line of policemen, tries to calm down fans protesting outside Stamford Bridge. Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP

6pm The first reports start to emerge that Chelsea are about to pull out of the venture because of the fan backlash and that they are preparing documentation to withdraw from the ESL.

7pm Manchester City join Chelsea in preparing to withdraw from the new league with a genuine sense that the venture is about to collapse.

8pm News emerges that Ed Woodward will step down as executive vice-chairman of Manchester United at the end of the year as the project continues to collapse.

9.23pm Manchester City become the first club to announce that they have “formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans” to create a European Super League.

10.55pm Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham issue statements saying they are pulling out. Arsenal go the furthest, writing: “We made a mistake, and we apologise for it. We know it will take time to restore your faith in what we are trying to achieve here at Arsenal.”

12.40am With rumours swirling that some Italian and Spanish clubs are also set to withdraw, the Super League issues a statement. It says the project is not abandoned, but time will be taken to “reshape the project”.

12.45am The first of the “Big Six” to reportedly make plans to withdraw, Chelsea, finally confirm the news in a statement. The club say the breakaway plans “would not be in the best interests of the club, our supporters or the wider football community.”

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