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Florentino Perez Says Super League Is on 'Standby' After EPL Withdrawals

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2021

FILE - In this June 13, 2019 file photo, Real Madrid's President Florentino Perez gives a speech at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain. The Super League's founding chairman Florentino Perez on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 says the competition is being created to save soccer for everyone and not to make the rich clubs richer. The Real Madrid president says it's
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Super League chairman Florentino Perez said Wednesday the plans for the breakaway European league are currently on hold:

It comes after all six Premier League teams announced they were dropping out of the proposed league just days after the Super League was unveiled Sunday. Of the 12 initial founding members, only a few remain.

"Juventus and Milan have not left," Perez said Tuesday. "Barca are thinking about it. Maybe we can change it a bit—that the top four in England enter, the top four in Spain. The important thing is that the big teams play each other, so the kids will watch football."

With these clubs along with Perez's Real Madrid, there are still the potential makings of a new league in the future.

The initial format was still not able to overcome massive backlash from fans or competing governing bodies.

There was significant criticism over the lack of competitive spirit in a league that would feature permanent members and no relegation. Chelsea supporters notably gathered for a huge demonstration Tuesday, urging the club to back out of the Super League.

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Perez questioned the authenticity of the protests.

"Chelsea fans? They were 40 people outside Stamford Bridge. ... And if you want, I will tell you who took them there," he said Tuesday.

Chelsea and Manchester City were the first two to show hesitation, seemingly creating a domino effect that helped shut down the project. Perez explained what went wrong:

"There was someone in the English clubs who did not have much interest. That started to affect the others. There was fear. One of the English clubs was never really convinced. The English clubs tried to do something, but they were being told they were killing football. But there is no other solution than the Super League. Or somebody invents something else."

There was also blowback from UEFA, as president Aleksander Ceferin said the players who compete in the Super League would be banned from the Euros and the FIFA World Cup.

"The problem is they [Ceferin] killed us the very next day, with terrible aggression," Perez said. "We have made some mistakes for sure. But they knew what we were going to do, and were waiting for us. Those who do not want to lose their privileges."

Perez still argued there is a need for changes because of the monetary issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Clubs around the world had limited revenue because of a lack of fans in the stands over the past year.

Perez said this will hurt big clubs like Real Madrid, as well as smaller ones looking to sell players.

"In general, there will not be big transfers this summer. When money does not flow from the rich clubs to the poor clubs, everyone suffers," Perez said. "It's impossible to make signings like [Kylian] Mbappe and [Erling] Haaland, in general, not just for Real Madrid, without the Super League."

While the clubs that would be selling those superstarsParis Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmundaren't exactly small, there could be a trickle-down effect on the transfer market.

The plans for a new league are on hold after the latest withdrawals, but Perez argued it remains a possibility.

"The founder clubs believed in this project," he said. "It is not dead. We will keep working."