The owners of Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are facing mounting condemnation and pressure for their part in the European Super League, which was spectacularly suspended on Tuesday night following the withdrawal of all six English clubs on a night of extraordinary drama.
Supporters remain furious with Gunners owner Stan Kroenke, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy and Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, with pressure on the London clubs increasing after Manchester United executive chairman Ed Woodward resigned on Tuesday night and Liverpool owner John W Henry issued a grovelling video apology on Wednesday morning.
Henry took responsibility for the club’s decision and insisted “no one in England ever thought” the controversial project would succeed without backing of the fans, who were not consulted by any of the clubs.
The statements from the London trio announcing their withdrawals varied in tone and contrition, but none contained a direct apology from the owners who colluded in the breakaway.
The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust described Kroenke on Twitter as “not fit” to own the club following Arsenal’s apology on behalf of “the board” on Tuesday night.
“Stan Kroenke is the 100 per cent owner of Arsenal,” the AST said. “He is the Board. Yet he can’t even own the apology. Shameless. Not fit to own Arsenal #kroenkeout.”
Club legend Ian Wright joined the backlash, tweeting: “#KroenkeOut”
Arsenal are bracing themselves for a fan protest ahead of their match against Everton on Friday night, with supporters up in arms over Kroenke and his running of the club.
The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust said it was “appalled with the tone and insincerity” of the club’s statement announcing their withdrawal and demanded a full explanation why the Blues joined the breakaway project.
CST described the position of Buck and CEO Guy Laurence as “untenable” and added: “The CST will not rest until we are comfortable that change and protections are put in place.”
The Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust had called for new owners if Levy did not immediately dissociate with the project and on Tuesday night said it would “regroup today” and promised an emergency members’ meeting to discuss the next steps within 48 hours.
But “LevyOut”, “GlazersOut” and “KroenkeOut” were all trending on Twitter on Wednesday morning, reflecting the strength of feeling over the failed coup.
Fans are expected to gather in protest outside Spurs’s stadium ahead of Wednesday’s game against Southampton, with the club thought to have prepared extra security.
In a statement announcing Tottenham’s withdrawal, Levy did not apologise but expressed regret at the “anxiety and upset” caused by the proposal.
Like Henry, the Spurs chairman stuck to the line that the Super League was intended for the greater good of the game, adding: “We felt it was important that our club participated in the development of a possible new structure that sought to better ensure financial fair play and financial sustainability whilst delivering significantly increased support for the wider football pyramid.”
The six rebel clubs may now face disciplinary sanctions from the Premier League and FA.
Brighton chief executive Paul Barber, who was also at the meeting on Tuesday, called for sanctions against the so-called ‘Big Six’, saying: “I think it is certainly something the Premier League and FA now need to look at.
“The last 72 hours has been a PR disaster for, not just those clubs, but all of us. It has brought football into a significant amount of bad headlines and we are very disappointed to be in the position we are in.”