Chelsea have expressed their “deep regret” over joining the Super League, while insisting that the decision was made in the club’s best interests.
The Blues joined Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and the two Manchester clubs, City and United, in lending their support to the initiative, which was announced on Sunday.
But just two days later Chelsea backed out alongside the rest of the Premier League contingent, leaving the proposal in limbo amid mass fan outcry.
What was said?
“The Owner and Board of Chelsea Football Club would like to address Chelsea supporters about the events which have taken place over the past few days. We have taken time since withdrawing from the ESL to speak directly to various supporter groups and listen to their views and concerns,” Chelsea signalled in a statement published on the club’s official website on Friday.
“Our ambition with Chelsea Football Club has always been to make it the best club in the world, both on the pitch and in how we work with, and give back to the community off it.“The joint decision to join the ESL was driven by this same ambition. When it became clear that a new league might be formed, we did not want Chelsea FC to miss out on the opportunity to play in such a potentially prominent league, nor did we want to risk the Club falling behind our closest English and European rivals in competitive terms.
“As a Club, we are committed to an open and regular dialogue with our fans and other stakeholders, but, on this occasion, regrettably, due to time constraints and confidentiality restraints, this was not achieved.
“As concerns were raised following the announcement, the Club took a step back to listen and speak to supporters. Following those conversations and taking into account the extremely strong views against the proposal, we reassessed our initial decision and decided we did not want to be part of this league.
“We also recognise the sentiment that had been expressed about whether the ESL relied strongly enough on sporting merit. This is something we had strong concerns about from the start and were confident would have been addressed during a further consultation process with various stakeholders, along with other concepts in the proposal about which we had reservations. We firmly believe that we must protect a structure which allows all clubs, players and supporters to dream of, and achieve, success.
“We recognise we should have addressed these issues in advance of joining the group. The Owner and Board understand that involving the Club in such a proposal was a decision we should not have taken. It is a decision we deeply regret.”
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel also gave his opinion on the events of the past week, admitting Super League talk has been a huge distraction for his squad as they prepare for their upcoming Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid and also seek to maintain their place inside the Premier League top four.
Tuchel was especially affected on Tuesday, when Chelsea faced Brighton amid chaotic fan protests on a day that would eventually see all six Premier League teams leave the Super League.
“We had several talks [with the players] about it between Sunday and Tuesday, honestly, which I don’t know if it helped or if it did not help in the end but I arrived in the stadium in a strange mix of feelings,” he said to Sky Sports.
“I was a bit annoyed, I was a bit angry, I was impatient, I was absolutely not focused like I normally am on match days.
“It was a strange mix and I couldn’t really get rid of it during the match and after the match, so my medicine was to turn things off. I did not watch any TV, I did not watch any news, any football, which is very unusual for me.”