Manawatu Standard

EPL rebel clubs apologise for Super League mutiny to placate angry fans

- Rob Harris

England’s Super League rebels finally listened to their fans, just a bit too late.

Even the apologies – on camera from Liverpool owner John Henry and in a letter from Manchester United co-owner Joel Glazer – couldn’t placate anger that their clubs tried to split to form a largely closed European competitio­n.

Under a weight of pressure from supporters, the British government and some of their players, the Premier League’s ‘big six’ withdrew from the breakaway competitio­n on Wednesday, imploding the project as the Spanish and Italian elite clung on.

‘‘The cabal of billionair­e owners overplayed their hand and their rapacious appetite for more united an unpreceden­ted array of opponents,’’ the Football Supporters’ Associatio­n said.

The mutineers, who also included Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham, 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 Monday that they were quitting Uefa’s Champions League structure to form the Super League.

‘‘I’m sorry, and I alone am responsibl­e for the unnecessar­y negativity brought forward over the past couple of days,’’ Henry told Liverpool fans in a video message.

As owner of the Boston Red Sox, Henry hoped to import the American system of closed leagues into European football where it is an alien concept. Now he accepted he had to ‘‘rebuild trust’’ after letting down the fans.

‘‘It’s something I won’t forget,’’ Henry said, ‘‘and shows the power the fans have today and will rightly continue to have.’’

Outside Anfield, supporters felt Henry and his Fenway Sports Group need to do a lot more to get them back onside.

‘‘I don’t think it’s a meaningful apology,’’ fan Hannah Ray said.

‘‘Had the fans not spoken up, the players not spoken up, they 100 per cent would have gone along with it. It’s not something they regret doing at all, I think.’’

Being ignored is something Manchester United fans have grown used to in the 16 years that the Glazer family has owned the club. That made the open letter from Joel Glazer rare, acknowledg­ing the deep wounds caused.

‘‘In seeking to create a more stable foundation for the game, we failed to show enough respect for its deep-rooted traditions – promotion, relegation, the

 ??  ?? Liverpool owner John Henry says he must rebuild trust after letting down fans.
Liverpool owner John Henry says he must rebuild trust after letting down fans.

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