Liverpool Football Club have released an indifferent and insufficient statement acknowledging they’re out of the Super League.
It’s official. Liverpool are out of the Super League. And they’re grudgingly willing to acknowledge it by way of a limp and lifeless 47-word statement on the matter.
Since we wouldn’t want to steal their thunder completely by writing a lead-in significantly more robust than the statement itself, without any further ado, here it is in all its glory:
Liverpool Football Club can confirm that our involvement in proposed plans to form a European Super League has been discontinued.
In recent days, the club has received representations from various key stakeholders, both internally and externally, and we would like to thank them for their valuable contributions.
It’s not much, and it probably won’t help to mend the newly opened rift between Fenway Sports Group and the club’s legacy fans that has taken place over the past 48 hours as the owners burnt through a decade of hard-earned goodwill pushing a massively unpopular proposal, but at least they’re out.
Now, the question turns to how fans of Liverpool and the other English clubs, both the six that pushed for the formation of a Super League and the rest, react.
It’s all well and good to say this unpopular Super League proposal—a proposal spearheaded by Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Juventus—appears dead, but UEFA’s proposals for an expanded Champions League hardly seem any better.
Meanwhile, the game is rife with festering issues of finances, access, and equality all the way down the pyramid. If there’s a time to try to address any of them, that time is probably now.
And given the unhappiness this debacle has inspired, there does seem a real chance right now for fans of the game to earn real concessions—perhaps even to push for reforms that would include fan ownership based on the German 50+1 model.
For now, though, at least the Super League appears off the table. For the time being at least. Even if the club couldn’t even stretch as far as Arsenal by mentioning the fans or offering any kind of an apology.
Led by captain Jordan Henderson, Liverpool players have come out against FSG’s efforts to push through a Super League.
At Manchester United, vice chairman Ed Woodward is out. Conflicting reports have Andrea Agnelli stepping down at Juventus. More will likely follow given the scale of the failure by some of Europe’s richest to push through their hugely unpopular proposal.
Liverpool, for now at least, remain in the fold—or if they’re out they’re not saying anything, which would at least be in line with the cub’s owners saying nothing at any stage of this debacle.
Instead, from the start of it Fenway Sports Group have seemed content to leave it to others to argue their case and for Liverpool’s players and manager Jürgen Klopp to face the heat from fans and the media.
Now, though, the payers have responded en masse, with captain Jordan Henderson leading the way and posting a shared message on social media. The rest of Liverpool’s first team players quickly followed suit.
For the fans. For the city. https://t.co/JrLav3fhTo
— Trent Alexander-Arnold (@TrentAA) April 20, 2021
Even with public sentiment heavily against the Super League proposal, it always takes nerve and represents risk to stand up to ownership, no less for a football player regardless their celebrity or wage packet.
It’s a move that should be commended for all Liverpool’s players—and in particular for their captain. Now it remains to be seen whether those at Fenway Sports Group responsible for the mess of the last few days will show similar nerve and own up to their mistakes.
Liverpool had been key in trying to push a European Super League into existence and FSG’s relationship with the fans may never recover as a result.
The dream of a European Super League as envisaged by Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Juventus appears dead, at least for the time being, as three of clubs that had agreed to come on board with them have today walked away from the undertaking.
Chelsea were the first to defect, as London’s Blues announced their departure from the Super League early on Tuesday evening. They were quickly followed by Manchester City and then La Liga side Atletico Madrid in announcing they would not take be taking part.
The four key founding members have made no announcements. Neither have the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham, AC Milan, or Inter Milan. While not rejecting the new league, Barcelona have stated they will not push ahead without the support of their voting socios.
As positive as the news is, UEFA’s proposed expanded Champions League that is likely to go through now is hardly any better than a Super League, and the governing body’s Financial Fair Play failures are a key reason in why we’re currently talking about a Super League.
It’s also hard to overstate just how disappointing it is for Liverpool to have been one of the key players pushing for a closed Super League that would have relegated English domestic football to an afterthought and all but certain to go the way of the domestic cups.
After a decade of hard work overcoming skepticism and building a relationship with a fanbase burnt by the toxic ownership of Tom Hicks and George Gillett, over two days Fenway Sports Group have largely alienated many of the club’s so-called legacy supporters.
It is difficult to envisage a way back for them from this. The Super League may be over for now, but Liverpool as a club—and the relationship between fans, players, and owner—has been significantly damaged by their actions, as has its reputation in the game.
The English league isn’t happy about a Super League that would devalue it as a competition.
Following a meeting of the 14 Premier League sides and league officials not involved in a proposal of a breakaway European Super League, the governing body for England’s top flight says it is considering actions to hold the breakaway clubs to account.
Given the importance and competitiveness of Premier League stands to suffer if the plans led by Manchester United and Liverpool in England—and with Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, and Tottenham also signing on—go ahead, it’s hardly a surprise.
“The Premier League, alongside The FA, met with clubs today to discuss the immediate implications of the Super League proposal,” read the league’s statement. “The 14 clubs at the meeting unanimously and vigorously rejected the plans for the competition.
“The Premier League is considering all actions available to prevent it from progressing, as well as holding those Shareholders involved to account under its rules.”
The proposed Super League plan would do away with European qualification via league position and block off sides with aspirations of European involvement like Leicester City or West Ham United—both of whom are currently in the Champions League places.
Over the long term, that would also lead to a situation where games in the second half of the season wouldn’t matter for clubs not directly in the title race, leading to a devalued competition in much the same way the domestic cups have over time been devalued by the expansion of the Champions League and Europa League.
It’s a proposal that would have real long-term financial consequences for the league—and as such they certainly aren’t acting out of altruism—as it risks relegating the Premier League to second tier competition status.
As such, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility the league could seek to punish the involved sides heavily if they insist on pushing ahead with their plans, given that if a Super League succeeds it would do lasting long-term damage to the Premier League.
“The League will continue to work with key stakeholders,” the statement continued, “including fan groups, Government, UEFA, The FA, EFL, PFA and LMA to protect the best interests of the game and call on those clubs involved in the proposed competition to cease their involvement immediately.
“The Premier League would like to thank fans and all stakeholders for the support they have shown this week on this significant issue. The reaction proves just how much our open pyramid and football community means to people.”
Fenway Sports Group’s lack of respect or consideration for the faces of the club has been striking.
Since confirmation late on Sunday that 12 of Europe’s richest clubs intended to form a breakaway European Super League, it has been difficult to ignore that those who made the decisions have hid in the background and left those who didn’t to face the consequences.
Managers and players have been left to face the press and try to handle the criticism without having known the Super League was coming or even having since been briefed on why their clubs are moving towards it, leaving them to fill in the blanks themselves.
The cowardice, the lack of basic respect or consideration for the faces of the clubs involved in the attempted founding of the Super League, has been striking, and it doesn’t look as though Liverpool’s players and coaching staff will be getting answers any time soon.
“We know that this announcement has provoked strong feelings within the game and elsewhere,” read the first attempt to bring them into the loop, an email from chief executive Billy Hogan on Monday as Jürgen Klopp and the players prepared to face Leeds United.
“We believe this decision is in the best long-term interests of Liverpool Football Club. Importantly, and we can now start an engagement process with you, supporters, and key stakeholders. I will keep you updated and discuss further on our Town Hall tomorrow.”
According to David Lynch of This Is Anfield, Tuesday’s Town Hall meeting has since been cancelled, leaving all those who work for the club largely still in the dark two full days and one Premier League game after news of the planned Super League began to break.
Beyond the cowardice and inconsideration shown by leaving club staff in the dark, given players and coaching staff would need to at least accept the vision for it to be implemented it seems almost preposterous they have been left to draw their own conclusions.
From a basic human standpoint, Fenway Sports Group’s treatment of the public faces of Liverpool Football Club in their Super League rollout seems crass and immoral. From a business standpoint, it lands as simple incompetence.
The Reds missed out on the full three points against Leeds United at Elland Road.
Regardless of the news dominating the football world over the last 48 hours, the games continue on. Liverpool traveled to Elland Road to take on Leeds United on Monday night to continue their fight for a top four spot. How much a top four spot even matters anymore remains to be seen, and maybe that uncertainty contributed to Liverpool conceding a goal in the 87th minute that cost them all three points.
Despite a strong first half that was capped by a goal by Sadio Mane, the Reds could only go back to Merseyside with a single point after allowing in a set piece goal at the death.
James Milner attributed the drop off in performance to player fatigue.
“First half was very good, second half we looked very tired,” Milner said. “When you’re in that situation you need to push up and you need to keep the ball better than we did, so that was disappointing. Probably the Madrid game took a lot out of us as well… first half was good but to beat a team like Leeds you’re going to have to put in a good 95 minutes and we didn’t do that.”
While Liverpool did play in the Champions League last Wednesday, they had the benefit of playing the Monday night game and getting an extra few days of rest. However, if Milner is talking about psychological fatigue? Then same, my man.
“We had chances. Again, it’s the same sort of thing, not taking those chances,” he continued.
“A small positive again is that we’re creating those but it’s disappointing, especially when you’ve led for so long. Ali made some great saves but they had chances so maybe a draw is a fair result in the end.”
This wet fart of a game was the perfect cap to the last 24 hours that preceded it.
The boss weighs in on his thoughts after Liverpool’s draw with Leeds United.
The football today was a surreal experience. With news of this Super League on the top of everyone’s minds, the Reds playing an actual match was somewhat anti-climatic. This was compounded by the fact that it’s hard to care about the Reds sneaking into the top four when their European tournament future is so up in the air.
But Liverpool played. And Liverpool gave up a late goal that robbed them of all three points. After, once the Super League questions were out of the way, Jürgen Klopp was asked about the match he just oversaw.
When asked if a draw was a fair reflection of the game, Klopp admitted, “Yeah, probably in the end. We played a really good game in the first half, a really good game[…] Then we got step by step a bit deeper, defended deeper, and that makes no sense. That doesn’t help. But it’s an intense game to play against them so we dropped deeper, it was not right but it happened, so they created, especially with set-pieces, big chances. Ali made two, at least, really good saves[…] Yes, when you are that long 1-0 up, it’s quite frustrating when you don’t get it over the line.”
It’s been a while since Liverpool blew a win by conceding a late goal. The feeling isn’t great, because it’s never fun watching Liverpool fail to win. However, the feeling of urgency for Liverpool to win every available point in their remaining games is a flicker of what it would have been before this news.
Hey, I guess that’s one good thing about this news then.
We we take a closer look at some of the whys and hows of the match as the Team Formerly Known As Liverpool dropped points after a dismal second half
This was not an easy game to watch. The non-stop narrative over the past 24 hours has been focused on the Super League gamble that John Henry and Fenway Sports Group took, using the club that we all love in a game of chicken with UEFA rather than on the juicy match up with the always fun Leeds. A game that could have major implications for a Champions League spot next season felt hollow and fairly pointless for me and many other “legacy fans”. Despite the obvious distractions, Jürgen Klopp somehow had his side focused as they stepped onto the field, and the Reds looked lively from the off. The game ended up following a familiar pattern, however. Liverpool create lots of chances, but struggle to finish. They did manage to find a goal, but it was wiped out after conceding a late set piece goal in a second half dominated by Leeds.
Join us as we try and separate narrative from reality of the match up and how it all went down in the end.
Sadio ManéThe Senegalese striker has been on a streak of ice cold finishing, but he finally found the back of the net against Leeds United. Diogo Jota played a sumptuous diagonal to Trent Alexander-Arnold at the top right corner of the box. The young Scouser one-touched the ball at full stretch to Mané, who quickly slotted the ball into the open net. For Mané, it was his first goal in the Premier League since the end of January.
Alisson BeckerThe Brazilian shot stopper was phenomenal today. He made six saves, including several that required more than a modicum of bravery in 1v1 situations. Alisson kept Leeds at bay for 87 minutes, including during a period of one way traffic during the second half. There was little Alisson could do about the goal, unfortunately.
Patrick BamfordBamford has become a bit of a cult favorite for the neutrals. A late bloomer who looks like he could be Michael Edwards younger brother, he is not overly blessed in the athletic department. Despite that, Bamford has managed to couple extremely smart movement with an incredible engine to continually pop up in good spots. He managed to hit the crossbar today, but it was his post match comments that really should be highlighted.
“It’s amazing the amount of opera that comes in to the game when somebody’s pockets are getting hurt, it’s a shame it’s not like that with racism.”
Patrick Bamford speaks openly about his thoughts on the prospect of a ‘European Super League’ pic.twitter.com/DolVMBBg7p
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) April 19, 2021
Set PiecesLiverpool spent the better part of over two seasons as one of the best set piece teams in the world, both offensively and defensively. When Virgil van Dijk went down injured, Liverpool lost most of their set piece mojo. According to Andrew Beasley, who likes to count these sorts of things, Liverpool have now failed to score off of their last 77 shots from set piece situations. Defensively, Liverpool have given up 7 goals from set pieces this season in all competitions, including the header off of a corner in the 87th minute today.
Seven, including:WBA equaliser 1-1Southampton winner 0-1United winner (FA Cup) 2-3Fulham winner 0-1Leeds equaliser 1-1 https://t.co/JYDZC0roYh
— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) April 19, 2021
Continued DisjointednessLiverpool FC had some really nice moments of free-flowing football, especially in the first half. More often than not, however, the players just seemed to be on different wavelengths. The press often saw two players stepping into the same channel while one person frantically tried to put pressure on the ball carrier, leaving passing lanes wide open. Promising counter attacks fizzled out as players like Andrew Robertson got caught in two minds while his team had a numerical advantage, playing the ball too late for Diogo Jota to have any kind of an angle for a shot. This season has been a grind, mentally and physically, and it is showing in the way the team just can’t seem to play with that loose confidence of the last few years.
Dissecting the Narrative
Hoo boy, where even to begin. Liverpool came into this game in a good position to take some control in the race for a top 4 spot after West Ham lost on Saturday. Then the whole Super League thing happened, and now no one is sure of there is even anything to play for. UEFA is threatening to suspend all teams involved in the Super League from the Champions League and the Europa League next season at a minimum. The Super League has been rumored to be ready as soon as next season in retaliation, so if any of this holds water, Liverpool have nothing left to play for this season. Then again, a compromise could be reached and the results from this season could matter, so Liverpool dropping points in a game they led late could end up being massive.
What Happens Next
Well, all we know at this point is Liverpool will play out the current Premier League season. Liverpool will host Newcastle next Saturday, and we at TLO will write words about the game that may or may not matter. Or we’ll write about plate tectonics.
Despite Leeds’ hostile welcome, players seem to be in complete agreement against the proposed new European Super League.
The recently proposed European Super League was central in most pre- and post-match interviews today, with Liverpool’s captain James Milner and the Leeds striker both voicing their frustrations and a feeling of powerlessness in the face of the changes.
For Milner, the players have very little they feel they can do in the face of news about the ESL proposal.
“We just have to be professional and concentrate on the game as that’s the only thing we can control.”
The team had no prior knowledge ahead of yesterday’s announcement, per the Liverpool skipper.
“Same as everyone else, we learned about it yesterday, and that’s the first we’d heard of it.”
Milner had no qualms in coming out against the proposed league, positioning himself alongside the many supporters voicing their disapproval.
“[Players have] a lot of questions, I can say in my personal opinion I don’t like it, hopefully it doesn’t happen…I agree with what’s been said about it [in critiques].”
Given the players’ position, Milner had some trouble with the hostile welcome he and his teammates experienced as they arrived to the match tonight.
“The players obviously have no say, so their welcome to the ground tonight felt a bit unjust obviously, because we have to play football and have no control of it.”
Patrick Bamford of Leeds United came out, if anything, even more strongly against both the proposals — and also had derision for the uproar around financial concerns above all else in football. He echoed Milner’s insistence that they had no inside knowledge of the proposal.
“[The players] have just seen pretty much what everyone else has seen, like on Twitter and stuff. It’s amazing what everyone’s talking about — I can’t quite comprehend it.
“It’s amazing the amount of uproar that comes into the game when somebody’s pockets are being hurt. It’s a shame it’s never like that with other things that go wrong at the minute, with racism and stuff like that, but it’s just how it is.”
Bamford emphasized the centrality of fans — and on how this proposal seems to overlook them.
For me personally on Twitter and in the news I’ve not seen a single football fan who’s happy about the decision.
“I think football ultimately is because and is for the fans, so, without the fans every single club would be pretty much nothing. And it’s important that we stand our ground and show that football is for the fans and try to keep it that way.”
The central message coming from both Liverpool, one of the six who have formed to join the new league, and Leeds United, who took no part in these discussions, are united against the proposal.
Players join seemingly the majority of fans — and many pundits — against proposed changes in European competition.
Note: These interviews were not played in full on NBCSN, who presented only comments on the game at hand.
Good thing Liverpool don’t have to worry about qualifying for the Champions League any more.
Leeds United 1 – 1 Merseyside Reds
Leeds: Llorente 87’Reds: Mané 31’
Today was a bad day for football. The decision, taken by billionaires who just want to squeeze a few more pennies out of the working class, has turned what should be a potentially season-defining showdown into a meaningless affair.
Champions League qualification should be on cards, but whether banned from Europe by UEFA or off to get a payday in the European Super League, today probably won’t matter.
I still support the players and the manager. They did nothing wrong in all of this, and will probably suffer the brunt of the punishment. Fuck this sucks.
Liverpool start the match like some pricks from Yorkshire wore shirts in warm-up intimating that they didn’t deserve Champions League football. Which of course, they did. And if Liverpool needed motivation with the football world in meltdown, they seemed to have been gifted it by Leeds’ pregame shenanigans.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but after a pretty dominant opening half an hour, the game has devolved into a bit of a scoreless stalemate. And just as I write this, Liverpool flip the script and score a damned first half goal.
GOAL! And wow, it’s a phenomenal one! Diogo Jota picks out a Trent Alexander-Arnold’s run into the box with an incredible pass from deep on the left wing. Trent passes first time, taking the keeper completely out of the equation, right into the feet of Sadio Mané, who scores on an open net.
Liverpool end the half on top, having put in a really solid opening 45 minutes.
Leeds start the second half on the front foot, but Liverpool’s defense holds. Around the hour mark, Trent nearly gives the VAR officials a reason to give a penalty with a ball-to-hand incident in the box. A moment later Leeds create a great chance from a corner, but it looked as if it would’ve been offside.
Klopp makes his first sub on seventy minutes, bringing on Mohamed Salah for Sadio Mané. Not a bad sub to bring off the bench.
Things have really opened up in the last few minutes. Both sides spurn chances, including a Leeds effort that goes off the woodwork.
With ten minutes to go, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain comes on for Diogo Jota.
Goal. Leeds score from a corner. Goodnight.
It was a tale of two halves, and a draw is probably the fair result. I’d say that hurts our Champions League hopes, but who knows what the fall out of this European Super League shit will be?