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Super League financial backer admits it "misjudged" fan reaction

Super League financial backer admits it
© Reuters
The American investment bank had committed start-up capital for the controversial competition.

The Super League’s financial backer JP Morgan has said it “misjudged” how fans would react to the breakaway competition.

The American investment bank said on Monday it had committed 3.25 billion euros (just over £2.8bn) as start-up capital for the league, which posed a direct challenge to UEFA’s Champions League and also threatened to devalue Europe’s top domestic leagues.

Twelve clubs announced they had signed up to compete last Sunday night but by Wednesday afternoon nine had withdrawn amid fan protests and outrage from UEFA, FIFA, leagues, clubs, players and even politicians, making it a non-starter.

JP Morgan released a short statement on Friday morning which read: “We clearly misjudged how this deal would be viewed by the wider football community and how it might impact them in the future. We will learn from this.”

Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa is not in favour of the so-called ‘big six’ clubs being sanctioned for attempting to form a breakaway European competition.

Bielsa, whose side play Manchester United on Sunday, has been highly critical of the doomed ESL plans, but feels the current system “is not up to standard”.

Leeds players wearing ‘Football Is For The Fans’ shirts during the warm up prior to kick-off against Liverpool
Leeds players wore ‘Football Is For The Fans’ shirts during the warm up prior to kick-off against Liverpool at Elland Road on Monday night (Clive Brunskill/PA)

He said: “I don’t think that the path for a solution is for these clubs to be punished, but to convince what is best and to come up with rules of acceptance in general and make sure these rules are adhered to.

“When a rule is broken this forces a sanction (and this) means that the process before that was not efficient.

“And the leadership of the organisation to administer the interests of everybody is to create rules that everyone is able to adhere to as they have all accepted them.

“I am of the opinion that punishment is more for authority and shows that the quality or the efficiency of the rules was not up to standard.”

In the wake of waves of negative reaction, United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham all swiftly confirmed they would withdraw from the process.

Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce, whose side tackle Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday, felt the ‘big six’ had “taken a slapping” over the saga.

Bruce warned the football authorities would have to remain on their guard to ensure the proposal is not resurrected in the future.

“We’ve got to guard against it because this thing must have been rumbling on for years, so we must guard against it so this threatened breakaway doesn’t happen,” he said.

Steve Bruce celebrates scoring for Manchester United against Sheffield Wednesday
Steve Bruce hopes his former club Manchester United will learn from the experiences of the negative reaction to the ESL proposals (John Giles/PA)

“Look, I’ll let the authorities and the Premier League and all the rest of it deal with that, more intelligent people than I am, but they have to guard against it, that’s for sure.”

Bruce added: “These big clubs, how much do they need to earn? They already earn hundreds of millions more than, for example, we do and we’re a big club. It baffles me.”

Asked about his emotions as a former Red Devils captain to the Old Trafford club’s involvement in the plan, Bruce replied: “It’s all of them, not just Manchester United.

“I hope they’ve learned from their mistake. They must have been all shocked with what happened so very, very quickly to shut it all down, to withdraw so quickly. Let’s hope not just Manchester United, all of them.”

The Super League clubs resigned from the European Club Association (ECA) at the weekend having announced their intention to break away.

However, a tweet from the ECA on Friday appeared to offer hope of returning to the fold.

“We want to move past the events of this week and encourage and inspire the global football community, as matches return this weekend,” it read.

“Clubs can only succeed both on & off the pitch if we work hand in hand.”

The ECA has traditionally been perceived as an organisation which lobbies UEFA chiefly in the interests of Europe’s elite clubs, and failure of the Super League 12 to gain re-entry could weaken their ability to influence matters at continental level.

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Todays Game Header Right
1Manchester CityMan City34255471244780
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd331910464352967
3Leicester CityLeicester34196961392263
5West Ham UnitedWest Ham341771055441158
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs341681060382256
10Aston Villa331461348381048
11Leeds UnitedLeeds34145155052-247
12Wolverhampton WanderersWolves34119143346-1342
13Crystal Palace33108153456-2238
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton34813133539-437
17Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3499163656-2036
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom34511183165-3426
RSheffield UnitedSheff Utd3452271860-4217

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