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‘We saved football’: Chelsea go from villains to heroes as Abramovich set to pull team out of Super League (VIDEO)

‘We saved football’: Chelsea go from villains to heroes as Abramovich set to pull team out of Super League (VIDEO)
Football fans have claimed that the European Super League (ESL) is all but dead in the water after reports emerged that Chelsea and Manchester City are set to pull out of the much-maligned breakaway competition.

Man City have already confirmed they are planning to leave while Chelsea are said to be preparing the paperwork to withdraw from the nascent new league – which is a breakaway from the UEFA Champions League – barely 48 hours after it was confirmed that the Premier League pair would be among the 12 founder members of the venture.

Amid furious fan protests outside Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge home as they prepared to play Brighton in the Premier League on Tuesday, it emerged that the misgivings over the project had become too much for the Blues’ billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

Also on rt.com Roman Abramovich ‘pulling Chelsea out of European Super League’ as protests stun viewers ahead of Premier League match (VIDEO)

While it may not expunge them of all guilt for signing up to the widely despised league in the first place, the move from Chelsea won widespread praise on social media as they went from villains to heroes.

Many claimed that a domino effect would now kick in, and that the pressure would be too much for the other European giants in the ESL – including the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Arsenal – to continue with the project.  

Fellow fans praised Chelsea supporters for taking to the streets in such force against the new plans, with footage capturing protests turning to scenes of joy as the news broke that the Blues were planning to pull out of the ESL.

WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville, who has used his platform as a TV pundit to rip into the plans for the new league, shared the news with glee while calling on Man United's American owners the Glazer family to follow suit. 

Others urged caution, however, claiming that Real Madrid president Florentino Perez - the chairman of the ESL and one of the driving forces behind the new league - could find new replacements for Chelsea and Manchester City.

It is also unclear how straightforward it would be in legal terms for the pair to quit the Super League just days after joining up to it.  

The hugely controversial ESL plans have drawn widespread fury ever since they were announced on Sunday night.

The rebel league – which would feature six teams from England, and three each from Spain and Italy as founder members – has stood accused of being a cynical power grab by those at the top of football to set up a ‘closed shop’ model for the elite, akin to US leagues such as the NFL and NBA.

Under the plans, 20 teams would play in a new midweek competition to determine Europe's top club, with the clubs divided into two leagues of 10 teams.

Teams would play each other home and away in a 'season', before the top three in each league automatically progress to the quarterfinals and the fourth- and fifth-placed teams meet in playoffs to determine the other two teams who reach the quarter-finals. 

From there, a knockout competition would play out until the winner is determined in a one-off final. 

Fifteen 'founder' members of the league would retain permanent places in the project, with five other teams joining each year on an as-yet undetermined basis.  

Also on rt.com ‘Created by the poor, stolen by the rich’: Furious Manchester United fans protest club’s European Super League plans

Football bosses at organizing bodies UEFA and FIFA have blasted the plans, with UEFA threatening that any players competing in the ESL could be banned from international competition.

There have also been suggestions that any teams taking part in the ESL could be kicked out of their domestic leagues.

German giants Bayern Munich had already ruled themselves out of the competition, as had French champions Paris Saint-Germain. 

More cynical observers have questioned whether the whole project is merely a bargaining chip by the 12 founding teams to leverage more money and power from UEFA, and to have more say over what the Champions League looks like.

Whatever the case, the whole project now appears to be tottering just days after it was officially born into the world.

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