Real Madrid president Florentino Perez says the 12 clubs who were to found the European Super League cannot abandon it due to binding contracts, and he promised the project would return after a period of reflection.
Perez was one of the leading figures in the breakaway competition, which was unveiled last Sunday only to fall apart within days when all six English clubs involved withdrew and others followed.
But Perez, whose club are one of three teams along with Barcelona and Juventus yet to abandon the project, said it was not so simple for clubs to leave.
“I don’t need to explain what a binding contract is but effectively, the clubs cannot leave,” Perez told Spanish newspaper AS on Saturday.
“Some of them, due to pressure, have said they’re leaving. But this project, or one very similar, will move forward and I hope very soon.”
The Super League was dealt another blow on Friday when JPMorgan, who had provided a 3.5 billion euro (£3 billion) grant to the founding clubs, said it had “misjudged how the deal would be viewed”.
Perez, however, said the bank was still on board.
“It’s not true they’ve withdrawn. They have taken some time for reflection, just like the 12 clubs. If we need to make changes we will but the Super League is the best project we’ve thought of,” he added.
“The partnership still exists as do the members who comprise the Super League. What we have done is taken a few weeks to reflect in light of the fury of certain people who don’t want to lose their privileges and have manipulated the project.”
Devised in secret among club bosses and financiers, the project has effectively imploded, however, after a ferocious backlash from fans, pundits and politicians.
Perez reiterated the need for the new competition to boost clubs struggling to cope with losses from the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that the 12 Super League clubs had lost a combined 650 million euros last year and stood to lose up to 2.5 billion euros this year.
He was also not convinced by UEFA’s next reform of the Champions League, which will see the competition expanded to 36 teams from 2024.
“The Super League is the best possible project to help football come out of the crisis. Football is gravely hurt and we have to adapt to the era we live in,” he added.
“I think that the Champions League reform isn’t the best it can be, and what’s more we cannot wait until 2024.”
West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady says “trust has been vanquished” between the Premier League’s breakaway ‘big six’ and the other 14 clubs.
Brady represented West Ham at last Tuesday’s meeting of the Premier League sides not involved in the controversial European Super League breakaway.
She says criticism of the executives of those clubs at the crisis meeting was unanimous and passionate. While UEFA president Alexander Ceferin branded those involved as “snakes”, Brady insists the insults going round in the meeting were worse.
Writing for The Sun, Brady said: “I watched four of the six give apologies to their fans and players for being part of the money cartel and wondered where the apology was to their colleagues in the Premier League, as well as all our managers, players and fans.
“The crime was great. All six clubs pretended to be working for the best interests of the Premier League they were plotting to destroy. No wonder UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin called them snakes.
“At last Tuesday’s meeting of the other 14 clubs, I can assure you they were called worse.
“So many can see that they have breached the chairman’s charter – the rule that says executives and clubs have to act in good faith to one another.
“Trust has been vanquished. In future, how could my board ever ask one of them to represent the best interests of the PL and West Ham on a committee or working group?”
West Ham manager David Moyes joined the chorus of disdain towards the failed breakaway Super League and called for a unified British competition instead.
The Scot, who said he was “really disappointed” with Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham for their involvement in the ill-fated ESL, added: “I think reform is needed.
“Change is needed in some way. I think the Premier League has a brilliant product, I really do, but at the top clubs you’re talking about too many games, so could we have Premier League I and Premier League II?
“Could we have a situation where we do invite Rangers and Celtic to Premier League II? Why can we not unite the UK? Why do we have to be England and Scotland and not unite it?”