LONDON (AP) — After the aborted attempt to form a European Super League, Liverpool owner John Henry attempted to regain the trust of fans with an apology video on Wednesday.
The same public contrition was yet to come from all six of the Premier League clubs who faced two days of fury from their supporters for deciding — briefly — to abandon the UEFA system to join a largely closed breakaway European competition.
On a frenzied night of statements, Liverpool withdrew on Tuesday from the 12-team project along with the other five English rebel clubs, imploding the planned split from the existing Champions League.
“It goes without saying but should be said that the project put forward was never going to stand without the support of the fans,” said Henry, who also owns the Boston Red Sox. “No one ever thought differently in England. Over these 48 hours you were very clear that it would not stand. We heard you. I heard you.”
Premier League club owners like Henry didn’t just fail to consult their supporters. Even players and coaching staff at the Premier League champions were left in the dark before the announcement on Sunday of the Super League.
Liverpool players publicly voiced their opposition in a wave of coordinated tweets on Tuesday night to intensify the pressure on Henry to keep the seven-time European Cup winners within the long-standing, open competition.
“I want to apologize to Jürgen, to Billy, to the players and to everyone who works so hard at LFC to make our fans proud,” Henry said referencing chief executive Billy Hogan and manager Jürgen Klopp. “They have absolutely no responsibility for this disruption. They were the most disrupted and unfairly so. This is what hurts most. They love your club and work to make you proud every single day.”
The attempt at damage-limitation was familiar from Liverpool since the Fenway Sports Group bought the club in October 2010.
“I know the entire LFC team has the expertise, leadership and passion necessary to rebuild trust and help us move forward,” Henry said. “I hope you’ll understand that even when we make mistakes, we’re trying to work in your club’s best interests. In this endeavor I’ve let you down.
“Again, I’m sorry, and I alone am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought forward over the past couple of days. It’s something I won’t forget and shows the power the fans have today and will rightly continue to have.”
Fans of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham did not receive a similar apology from their owners for the fleeting attempt to join the Super League that the British government threatened to introduce laws to stop.
United, City and Chelsea only gave brief statements announcing they were deserting the Super League with no details.
Expressing disappointment at receiving no apology from the club, the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust said it has no confidence in the club’s leadership at board level led by chairman Bruce Buck — indicating their ongoing backing for owner Roman Abramovich, whose vast wealth has transformed the team since 2003.
Chelsea fans flooded the streets outside Stamford Bridge on Tuesday before the decision was leaked that the club was out of the Super League.
“We request a full and in-depth examination as to why the board took the decision to turn their back on the European competition and for CFC to explain why they signed up to the Super League without prior consultation with their loyal supporters,” the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust said.
The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust said for once fans weren’t ignored and managed to kill off the Super League.
“We need to make this a turning point — both for United and for football as a whole,” MUST said. “We have shown the power fans have, and we have to build on the amazing energy and momentum the short but noisy campaign against the Super League has had.”
United also announced Tuesday night that vice chairman Ed Woodward would be leaving this year but tried not to link it to the disastrous decision-making behind the Super League or the failure to win the Premier League since 2013.
“The problems at Manchester United are at ownership level,” MUST said. “With Ed going, and their Super League dream in tatters, maybe the Glazers ought to consider if now is their moment to leave the pitch too.
“But we don’t want them selling off to the highest bidder and fans to just be stood on the sidelines waiting to find out who takes over. This is a real opportunity for the Glazers to now change the current path of their legacy and open the door to supporter shareholding with full voting rights.”
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said officials “regret the anxiety and upset caused by the ESL proposal,” while explaining the finances on offer were too good to turn down initially.
From across north London, Arsenal issued an open letter to fans.
“We made a mistake, and we apologize for it,” said the club which is owned by Stan Kroenke. “We know it will take time to restore your faith in what we are trying to achieve here at Arsenal but let us be clear that the decision to be part of the Super League was driven by our desire to protect Arsenal, the club you love, and to support the game you love through greater solidarity and financial stability.”
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