Plans for the European Super League are disintegrating with Chelsea and Manchester City announcing their decision to withdraw from the breakaway league.
Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are also reportedly considering their memberships of the rebel alliance according to multiple reports.
Chelsea and City are two of six English clubs to sign up to the exclusive league, announcing their intentions to join alongside Man United, Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal, AC Milan, Inter, Juventus and Spanish club Real Madrid.
However, amid growing fan pressure in response to the news, The Athletic reports that both clubs have withdrawn their support from the £4.6bn scheme.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is understood to have driven the decision, having listened to fan protests and opted to withdraw from the new European league plans.
Abramovich’s motivations are thought never to have been about money, and the Blues are now understood to be preparing documents to withdraw formally from the competition.
Stamford Bridge chiefs were only thought to have signed up as a founder member of the Super League in order not to be left behind by the rogue breakaway league
But after resounding condemnation from across the political and sporting spectrum, Chelsea appear to have now decided to pull out of the competition – less than 48 hours after it was announced.
Chelsea fans congregated outside Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night ahead of their Premier League game against Brighton to protest against the breakaway league, with former Blues stat Petr Cech seen attempting to calm fans down.
Chelsea and Manchester City’s decision to walk away from the Super League dramatically increases the pressure on the 10 teams still remaining, with four of those from the Premier League.
Players participating in the Super League have already been warned by UEFA that they will be banned from World Cups and European Championships if the breakaway materialises.
Fan groups from all five remaining Premier League teams have all voiced their opposition, while UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised the government will consider dropping “a legislative bomb” to stop English clubs joining a breakaway Super League.
City boss Pep Guardiola revealed concern over the new competition on Tuesday, insisting that it ‘is not sport’ in response to the protection afforded to the 12 clubs plus three newcomers from relegation.
”It is not a sport where the relation between effort and success does not exist,’ he said. ‘It is not a sport where success is already guaranteed or it doesn’t matter where you lose.
”It is not fair when one team fight, fight, fight at the top and cannot be qualified because it is just for a few teams.
”The right people have the obligation, the duty, to clarify as soon as possible, clarify all around the world why these teams play and the others not. Ajax – with four Champions Leagues – why they are not there?
”Everyone makes (decisions for their) own interest. The Premier League looks at his interest, UEFA looks at his. To arrive in that point, UEFA have failed. They have to communicate and be in touch before.”
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has been the driving force behind the new competition, alongside Arsenal’s Stan Kroenke, United’s Joel Glazer and Liverpool’s John W Henry.
However, Perez’s counterpart Joan Laporta, president of Barcelona, said that his club would not join until it was approved by their fans.
”Barcelona will not join the Super League until our fans vote for it. It’s their club, so it’s their decision,” Laporta said via Transfer News Live.