Leeds United CEO Angus Kinnear has heavily criticised the "self-proclaimed big six" in the Premier League for their involvement in a breakaway European competition, branding the "deeply cynical" plan a betrayal of every true football supporter.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham were all part of a 12-club group that launched the Super League last Sunday.

The proposal included the agreement that the six English clubs, as well as fellow founding members Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter, Juventus, Milan and Real Madrid, would qualify each year for the competition, regardless of performances in their domestic leagues.

However, a widespread backlash led to the collapse of the competition inside 48 hours of the initial announcement. The Premier League contingent all withdrew on Tuesday, though UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has made clear there will still be consequences for getting involved.

Ahead of hosting Manchester United at Elland Road on Sunday, Kinnear lambasted Leeds' domestic rivals in his programme notes.

"The fact that the whole Leeds fan-base has been united by the brilliantly impassioned words of Gary Neville illustrates how desperate the plight of European football became this week," Kinnear wrote.

"A fortnight ago we left the Etihad with an instinct that Manchester City didn't take well to being humbled by lowly Leeds United, but we could never have predicted that it would be the catalyst for them creating their own league where they would never have to be inconvenienced with the spectre of on-pitch failure again.

"The audacity of a resurgent Leeds United, an ambitious Aston Villa, a brilliantly managed Leicester City, a Champions League-bound West Ham United and an Everton with bold stadium plans have clearly overwhelmed the self-proclaimed 'big six'.

"The timing of their plan combined with the turmoil of a global pandemic was not coincidental, it was deeply cynical, and the clandestine plotting of fellow Premier League shareholders made it all the more seditious.

"Whether the collective intent was a genuine move to breakaway or the act of playground bullies seeking negotiating leverage at European and domestic level by threatening to take their ball home is irrelevant. The result was a betrayal of every true football supporter. However, this astonishing ingordigiousness has been the unexpected catalyst of creating a furious unity across nations, leagues, players, owners and fans.

"I was proud to see Leeds United and Liverpool supporters stand shoulder to shoulder in protest before a game which once again showed we are already in a Super League and making it all the more bizarre that, in the world envisioned by Liverpool's ownership, the same fixture would have been a meaningless dead rubber."

Fans protested outside Elland Road on Monday ahead of Leeds' home fixture with Liverpool – a game that finished 1-1 after Diego Llorente dented the visitors' top-four hopes with a late equaliser.

The hosts had warmed up prior to the game wearing shirts that read "Earn it" – in reference to the Reds' bid to qualify for the Champions League – and "Football is for the fans". There was also a sign saying the same stationed behind one of the goals inside the stadium.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has made clear the 12 European Super League clubs must face the consequences for their involvement in the planned breakaway competition.

Less than 48 hours after the official announcement of the tournament, and following a huge public backlash to the plan, the 'big six' from the Premier League – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – all ended their involvement.

Ceferin has praised the English clubs for a willingness to admit they made a mistake, but that will not mean they avoid punishment – albeit it is unclear yet what action the governing body will take.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, the UEFA chief revealed how he has placed the teams in different tiers while comparing Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid to those who believe Earth is flat, with that trio still remaining aligned to the initial proposal.

"Everyone has to take consequences for what they did and we cannot pretend nothing happened," Ceferin told the newspaper.

"You cannot do something like that and just say: 'I've been punished because everybody hates me'. They don't have problems because of anyone else but themselves. It's not okay what they did and we will see in next few days what we have to do.

"But for me it's a clear difference between the English clubs and the other six. They pulled out first, they admitted they made a mistake. You have to have some greatness to say: 'I was wrong'.

"For me there are three groups of this 12 — the English six, who went out first, then the other three [Atletico Madrid, Inter and Milan] after them and then the ones who feel that Earth is flat and they think the Super League still exists. And there is a big difference between those.

"But everyone will be held responsible. In what way, we will see. I don't want to say disciplinary process but it has to be clear that everyone has to be held responsible in a different way.

"Is it disciplinary? Is it the decision of the executive committee? We will see. It's too early to say."

There was widespread condemnation of the Super League from fans, governing bodies and former players alike, leading to financial backers JP Morgan to admit they "misjudged how the deal would be viewed by the wider football community".

UEFA announced changes to the Champions League format on Monday, including an increase from 32 to 36 clubs as the current group stage system is to be shelved in favour of a single league.

Clubs will get to play four extra matches per season, with the top eight in the final table advancing through to the last 16. Those placed between ninth and 24th will enter a play-off round to decide who else will qualify for the knockout stages, while those 25th and lower are eliminated and do not enter the Europa League.

The radical reforms to the competition are scheduled to come into place for the 2024-25 season.

Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola voiced his concerns about the European Super League internally but says there is no problem with his relationship with the club's hierarchy.

City were the first club to withdraw from the European Super League which received widespread condemnation about its announcement last week.

Guardiola mentioned earlier this week that he opposed a league without relegation and had voiced similar concerns at the concept within the four walls of the club.

"It was not difficult because before I make a statement we spoke about that, and they completely agree, and that’s why I tell you," Guardiola said.

"I love this club – I love Ferran [Soriano, chief executive], Txiki [Begiristain, sporting director], Khaldoon [Al Mubarak, chairman] and the people who work in the club – we work together.

"Since I arrived here we were all together in all the decisions.

"I make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes – the guys who take decisions make mistakes, the guys who are sitting and judging what the others do make mistakes.

"Sometimes you are wrong. What’s the problem? We react and we apologise and move forward."

Soriano put out a message to the club's fans earlier in the week, saying that the board deeply regretted its actions.

Andrea Pirlo came out bullish when asked about the European Super League, insisting that Juventus are not scared of possible UEFA sanctions.

Juve were one of 12 leading European clubs to announce their intention to form a breakaway, closed-shop competition.

The news caused anger and furore across the continent, with all six English clubs involved electing to withdraw on Tuesday amid mounting pressure from fans, the media, politicians and governing bodies.

Despite the majority of the 12 clubs having pulled out, Juve – whose chairman Andrea Agnelli was one of the major players in the proposals – have not yet done so, while Barcelona and Real Madrid have also stayed in.

Madrid president Florentino Perez has been on the defensive all week, and as recently as Saturday told AS that the Super League teams were giving themselves time to reflect on the proposal.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has again reiterated that if Juve, Barca and Madrid fail to withdraw, then they could face suspension from the Champions League.

However, when asked if Juve were afraid of UEFA's threats, Pirlo – who was previewing Sunday's Serie A meeting with Fiorentina – replied: "We are not scared, we are comfortable that we can end the season pursuing our own objectives. We are okay regardless of the decisions UEFA will make."

Of Agnelli, Pirlo added: "I saw him as being serene. I believe it is normal many people talk about him, but he knows what he has to do and always encourages the team when he visits us during the training sessions. 

"The environment now is positive. We want to finish the season in the best way. After losing the title and the Champions League, our main target is to get a spot in Champions League.

"This is a must. We must be calm, but we must be fully focused for our ultimate objective."

One player certain to be crucial to Juve securing Champions League football is Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 36-year-old has scored 25 times in Serie A this term, while he has netted three goals against Fiorentina during his time with Juve – all of them coming from the spot.

"For me this is the first year [managing Ronaldo], I have a great relationship with him," Pirlo said when asked if it was difficult to handle Ronaldo's ego.

"He is a player who always wants to do well, he gets angry even when he loses minor games.

"When someone always wants to be at his best, I believe it is normal to have these kinds of attitudes. He always wants to win and is keen to help the team at all the time. This is a very positive side of him."

Florentino Perez says the clubs who claimed this week to have abandoned the European Super League remain contractually tied to the project.

The Real Madrid president, who has been a driving force and staunch defender of the controversial breakaway, says those that signed up "can't leave", even if they say they have quit the league.

Twelve teams declared last Sunday that they had committed to the Super League, but on Tuesday all six Premier League clubs announced they had quit. Inter and Atletico Madrid soon followed, Milan may also withdraw, while Juventus remain advocates of the league but have acknowledged its collapse.

Real Madrid and Barcelona very much remain, but for all the merits of Clasico clashes, they need other clubs to firmly commit.

Perez was asked in an interview with Spanish newspaper AS whether it was true that clubs would have to buy themselves out of binding contracts.

He said: "I'm not going to take my time to explain what a binding contract is here. But the fact is, the clubs can't leave.

"Some, because of the pressure, have had to say they'll leave. But this project, or something very similar, will happen, and I hope it's in the near future."

Supporters, players, coaches, politicians and even royalty have come out in opposition of the plans, with the 'closed-shop' nature of the Super League, whereby the 12 founding clubs would be guaranteed continuing membership, being criticised as an anti-competitive concept.

UEFA and FIFA, the long-time governing bodies of the European and world game, have been scathing and pointed to the possibility of punishments being imposed on the clubs involved.

Perez vowed the Super League has not yet been killed off and is merely a sleeping project, poised to be resurrected.

"The entity exists and the members who make up the Super League are there too," he said.

"What we've done is given ourselves a few weeks to reflect on the hostility with which certain people who don't want to lose their privileges have manipulated the project."

He said financial backers JP Morgan remain involved, despite the investment banking firm stating it "clearly misjudged" the depth of feeling that would be stirred in the football community by the league.

"They've taken time to reflect, like the 12 clubs," Perez said. "If something needs to be changed, it'll be changed, but the Super League is the best project we've thought can be carried out."

Perez said he was baffled by UEFA's Champions League expansion plans, announced on Monday, which will see 36 teams rather than the current 32 compete from the 2024-25 season, each guaranteed at least 10 games per season, and he said the start date was too far away.

Madrid, Barcelona and all major European clubs have been hit heavily financially by the COVID-19 crisis, with major revenue streams such as matchday income cut off.

Perez said there was a danger that "all the clubs go bankrupt" unless there is immediate action.

Mikel Arteta claimed fan protests against Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke did not play on the minds of his players during an 1-0 defeat to Everton on Friday.

Over a thousand Arsenal supporters gathered outside Emirates Stadium to voice their dissent at Kroenke's role in the failed European Super League breakaway project.

Arsenal were one of the 12 founding members of the competition before they withdrew on Tuesday, apologising in an open letter to fans.

Arteta revealed his team had arrived early to avoid the protests, but they produced a meek display on the pitch as Bernd Leno's calamitous own goal handed Everton the points.

It was Arsenal's first Premier League defeat at home to Everton since January 1996, ending a 24-game unbeaten run against the Toffees at the Emirates or Old Trafford.

"No, no," Arteta told a media conference when asked if the defeat could be put down to the protests.

"We knew that was happening and we knew our fans wanted to express our feelings. We made our preparations with that in mind and that's not an excuse

"We got inside the stadium [early]. Obviously, the players know what is happening, they are all connected to social media. We let them know the reasons why they [the fans] were outside.

"I am desperate to have [the fans] back because we really need them. We have a really young team who has to experience the emotion, security and trust when you feel your people really behind you."

Arteta urged Arsenal's board and fans to rebuild their relationship, but did not address questions related to calls for Kroenke to go.

"Well I think it's a relationship that has to come together from both parties," Arteta added.

"Some probably giving some opportunities and the other ones showing that they want to be closer to them. I talk about what my experience is and what my relationship is and how involved they are.

"Now the biggest challenge is to get them in the stadium as quick as possible, and show that passion, togetherness and unity with the team because the team is desperate for them to be closer to us."

The Gunners have now lost seven games on their own turf in the Premier League this season – their most home defeats in a league campaign since 1992-93 (also seven).

They have also failed to score in eight Premier League games at home this season, twice as many as in the previous four campaigns combined.

Arteta described Arsenal's home form as "terrible" and "unacceptable" but criticised a VAR decision to overrule the award of a penalty earlier in the game.

Arsenal were awarded a spot-kick when Dani Ceballos went down in the box after a slight touch from Richarlison, but VAR deemed Nicolas Pepe was in an offside position in the build-up.

"This has been building up. Enough is enough. Today I had enough," Arteta said of the decision.

"We've had many of them that no-one explains. It affects a lot of people, our job and most important our football club."

Arteta added in an interview with Sky Sports: "To disallow a penalty 15 seconds before eight or nine touches [after Nicolas Pepe was offside] – I saw it 10 times and I don't get it.

"It can be taken the way they want. Zero control. Somebody has to explain that.

"We were the better team. We lacked some clear-cut chances and the edge in the final third. They are very well organised but we conceded the goal in the wrong moment and when we had the penalty but it wasn't given."

Spotify founder Daniel Ek has declared an interest in buying Arsenal if owner Stan Kroenke decides to sell the Premier League club.

Music industry billionaire Ek has been an Arsenal supporter since 1991, he revealed three years ago, choosing them as his English club to follow because fellow Swede Anders Limpar played for the Gunners.

The long-standing connection could see Ek make an offer for Kroenke's holding, should the 73-year-old American want to cut his ties to Arsenal.

Protests from Arsenal supporters outside Emirates Stadium on Friday evening, before their 1-0 home defeat to Everton, saw many calling for Kroenke Sports and Entertainment to leave the club.

The fans are angry that Arsenal signed up to the European Super League project, which has since apparently collapsed beyond retrieval after a massive backlash from supporters, players, coaches, politicians and the football authorities.

Ek made his announcement as those protests were carrying on in north London.

He wrote on Twitter: "As a kid growing up, I’ve cheered for @Arsenal as long as I can remember. If KSE would like to sell Arsenal I'd be happy to throw my hat in the ring."

Arsenal were one of six Premier League clubs to commit to the Super League, but two days after an initial announcement of their involvement all had withdrawn.

The 'closed-shop' element of the proposed new competition caused huge controversy, with supporters furious their clubs had joined the breakaway league.

Thanks to the success of music streaming service Spotify, Ek is said by Forbes to have a net wealth of around $4.7billion.

Chelsea "deeply regret" their decision to join the European Super League, though they have criticised some fans for directing abuse at club officials.

The Blues were one of 12 teams to join the proposed breakaway league, only to then change their decision within 48 hours.

Chelsea's withdrawal came amid pressure from the media, politicians, fellow clubs, UEFA, the Premier League and the Football Association (FA), while hundreds of supporters gathered outside Stamford Bridge prior to Tuesday's contest with Brighton and Hove Albion, with Petr Cech having to mediate with the protesters.

In an open letter to Chelsea's fans, the club's board and owner Roman Abramovic have offered their apologies, indicating they joined the group in order to keep in touch with their major rivals.

It stated: "Our ambition with Chelsea 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 European Super League was driven by this same ambition. When it became clear that a new league might be formed, we did not want Chelsea 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.

"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 did, however, add that some of the debate had transitioned into abuse.

"The club does ask, however, that this dialogue is conducted in a respectful way," the statement continued.

"The abuse which some club representatives have been the target of over the past few days is not acceptable. Antisemitism, sexism, racism and threats of violence have no place in our community nor in this discussion.

"We hope that you will help us make sure that a respectful tone remains, even when we disagree."

Chelsea's London rivals Tottenham are facing a major fan backlash of their own, and the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust (THST) demanded the club's executive board resign over the Super League episode.

THST called for "elected and accountable fan representation" on a new board, attacking those currently in office.

The Trust said in a statement: "The consequences of their decision to attempt to launch this breakaway league could now lead to substantial penalties against Spurs – points deductions, suspension from competition, financial penalties, other sanctions.

"They signed up to this plan knowing they risked all that, and knowing they risked their players being banned from international competition. The responsibility of the club's board is to always act in the best interests of THFC.

"The current board clearly has not acted in the best interests of the football club. In fact, its action could still lead to outcomes that are in the worst interests of THFC. We think their relationship with us is irreparably broken. And we think their continued presence risks punitive action being taken against the club.

"We believe the immediate resignation of the current executive board is in the best long-term interests of the club."

Chelsea "deeply regret" their decision to join the European Super League, though they have criticised some fans for directing abuse at club officials.

The Blues were one of 12 teams to join the proposed breakaway league, only to then change their decision within 48 hours.

Chelsea's withdrawal came amid pressure from the media, politicians, fellow clubs, UEFA, the Premier League and the Football Association (FA), while hundreds of supporters gathered outside Stamford Bridge prior to Tuesday's contest with Brighton and Hove Albion, with Petr Cech having to mediate with the protesters.

In an open letter to Chelsea's fans, the club's board and owner Roman Abramovic have offered their apologies, indicating they joined the group in order to keep in touch with their major rivals.

It stated: "Our ambition with Chelsea 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 European Super League was driven by this same ambition. When it became clear that a new league might be formed, we did not want Chelsea 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.

"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 did, however, add that some of the debate had transitioned into abuse.

"The club does ask, however, that this dialogue is conducted in a respectful way," the statement continued.

"The abuse which some club representatives have been the target of over the past few days is not acceptable. Antisemitism, sexism, racism and threats of violence have no place in our community nor in this discussion.

"We hope that you will help us make sure that a respectful tone remains, even when we disagree."

Chelsea's London rivals Tottenham are facing a major fan backlash of their own, and the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust (THST) demanded the club's executive board resign over the Super League episode.

THST called for "elected and accountable fan representation" on a new board, attacking those currently in office.

The Trust said in a statement: "The consequences of their decision to attempt to launch this breakaway league could now lead to substantial penalties against Spurs – points deductions, suspension from competition, financial penalties, other sanctions.

"They signed up to this plan knowing they risked all that, and knowing they risked their players being banned from international competition. The responsibility of the club's board is to always act in the best interests of THFC.

"The current board clearly has not acted in the best interests of the football club. In fact, its action could still lead to outcomes that are in the worst interests of THFC. We think their relationship with us is irreparably broken. And we think their continued presence risks punitive action being taken against the club.

"We believe the immediate resignation of the current executive board is in the best long-term interests of the club."

Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal fans are the soul of the club as the Premier League side seek to rebuild relationships in the aftermath of the European Super League debacle.

Arsenal were one of six English top-flight teams to sign up to the doomed breakaway project, hastily withdrawing alongside all their Premier League counterparts on Tuesday amid a backlash from fans, players, football authorities and even national governments.

Chief executive Vinai Venkatesham and director Josh Kroenke received a severe grilling when attempting to apologise to an Arsenal fans forum this week and protests outside Emirates Stadium are expected to precede Friday's game against Everton.

Arteta, a popular figure during his playing days with the Gunners, insists the fans have the respect of himself and his players after making their voices heard during a tumultuous episode.

"We want to listen to them, we totally respect them. They've been loud and clear and they've been heard," he said.

"They're going to be heard all the time because they are the soul of this football club and the soul of this industry.

"We're going to try to do the best we can to make them proud all the time and make their lives better by playing the way we want to play, winning football matches and trophies.

"That's our responsibility. If they can help in any way it is by giving support to the team because that is going to have an immense effect. It is so powerful and they have to realise that."

If anything, the spectacle of fans congregating outside stadia makes Arteta pine for a return to pre-pandemic normality, describing football behind closed doors as a "different sport".

"I want fans, I want to have that feeling that we are competing and have feeling behind us," he added.

"If not, it is a different sport. Let's get back to where we were before the pandemic and enjoy football in a different way."

JP Morgan, the investment bank who had agreed to back the breakaway European Super League, has vowed to learn from a saga it "clearly misjudged".

The New York-based company was said to have committed €3.25billion to fund the controversial project.

But plans for the competition, which was officially revealed by the 12 founding clubs last weekend, fell through within 48 hours of the announcement after England's 'big six' pulled out.

Pressure from fans, players, coaches, governing bodies, governments and the media built up on the clubs due to the anti-competitive nature of a tournament intended to rival UEFA's Champions League model.

The dozen founders would have been guaranteed participation each year regardless of performances in their domestic leagues.

Only LaLiga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona still appear committed to the proposal with Juventus - keen supporters, led by chairman Andrea Agnelli - acknowledging the initial version of the Super League will not work.

JP Morgan said in a statement released on Friday: "We clearly misjudged how this deal would be viewed by the wider football community and how it might impact them in the future. We will learn from this."

Sustainability rating agency Standard Ethics had earlier downgraded JP Morgan from an "adequate" rating to "non-compliant" following the episode.

"Standard Ethics judges both the orientations shown by the football clubs involved in the project and those of the US bank to be contrary to sustainability best practices," it said.

Barcelona kept within touching distance of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid as Lionel Messi inspired Ronald Koeman's team to a 5-2 victory over Getafe.

As Atleti were beating Huesca to move three points clear at the top of LaLiga, Barca released a statement prior to their own contest at Camp Nou, reiterating a commitment to the seemingly failed European Super League project.

While that topic seems set to rumble on, Messi served up a reminder of just what the game is at its very best with another sublime showing, scoring twice in an action-packed first half which also saw Sofian Chakla and Clement Lenglet turn into their own nets.

Enes Unal's penalty after a VAR review gave Getafe hope, but Ronald Araujo headed in from Messi's superb corner before Antoine Griezmann converted from the spot in stoppage time.

A magnificent Messi strike seemed set to put Barca ahead within three minutes, yet Getafe survived – the ball bouncing down and away off the underside of the crossbar.

Messi would not be denied again five minutes later, as he beat Getafe's offside trap and finished over David Soria.

But with Oscar Mingueza off the field receiving treatment for a knee injury, Barca were swiftly pegged back when Angel Rodriguez's wayward shot diverted in off Lenglet.

It was a huge stroke of misfortune that saw Getafe concede for a second time.

Soria rushed out to get onto a loose ball, only for Chakla to instead play a blind pass beyond his goalkeeper, whose despairing dive into the net only added to the comedy of errors.

It was 3-1 five minutes later – Messi's right-footed volley coming back off the post, but Barca's talisman was on hand to tuck in the rebound.

Getafe received a lifeline when Araujo was adjudged after a VAR check to have fouled Unal, who converted the resulting penalty to reduce the deficit with 21 minutes remaining.

Yet Araujo made amends in the 87th minute, powerfully heading home from Messi's corner to secure the points, with Griezmann's last-minute penalty adding further gloss to a win which moves Barca third, five points behind Atleti with a game in hand.

Manchester City star Ilkay Gundogan has pleaded with UEFA to think more about player workloads after changes were made to the Champions League.

On Sunday, City were one of 12 leading clubs to announce their intention to join the European Super League – a breakaway competition with a closed-shop element.

By Tuesday evening, City were the first team to officially confirm their withdrawal from that league, with the other English teams swiftly following suit amid widespread criticism and pressure from fellow clubs, UEFA, politicians, the Premier League and the Football Association.

Atletico Madrid, Inter and Milan have also withdrawn, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus the other teams who signed up to the project.

Sunday's reports and subsequent announcement of the 12-team proposal came a day ahead of UEFA confirming changes to the format of the Champions League.

From 2024, there will be 36 teams featured in the tournament, with each club guaranteed a minimum of 10 games.

While the European Super League has taken much of the flack, the Champions League alterations would also seemingly guarantee more dominance to the bigger teams, while also congesting an already packed fixture schedule, something which Gundogan is not on board with.

"With all the Super League stuff going on... can we please also speak about the new Champions League format?" the Germany international tweeted on Thursday.

"More and more and more games, is no one thinking about us players? The new UCL format is just the lesser of the two evils in comparison to the Super League.

"The UCL format right now works great and that is why it's the most popular club competition in the world – for us players and for the fans."

City have progressed to the Champions League semi-finals this season, for only the second time in their history.

One of the proposed sanctions against the 12 clubs by UEFA was the possibility of banning them from its competitions.

It remains to be seen what punishment, if any, the teams will receive from UEFA or their domestic leagues after the attempted breakaway.

Barcelona said it would have been an "historical error" not to sign up for the European Super League and the club remains convinced structural reform is needed to protect the financial future of football.

The Blaugrana were announced on Sunday as one of 12 founding members of the highly controversial breakaway league, which received widespread criticism due to the closed-shop nature of the competition.

Less than 48 hours, all six of the Premier League teams that had agreed to sign up all withdrew their participation following a fierce backlash from fans, players, supporters, the Football Association and the UK government.

Atletico Madrid and Serie A rivals Milan and Inter later followed suit, seemingly leaving the league dead in the water before it even took off the ground.

But Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli – leading figures in the Super League – both launched a staunch defence of a competition they remain convinced has to happen as clubs struggle to contend with the economic impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Newly re-elected Barca president Joan Laporta earlier said the lucrative Super League was "absolutely necessary" and a club statement struck a similarly pleading tone about their belief that change is a must.

"FC Barcelona shares the view of most major European football clubs, and even more so given the current socio-economic climate, that there is a need for structural reforms to guarantee the financial sustainability and feasibility of world football by improving the product that is offered to fans around the world and by consolidating and even increasing the fan base on which this sport is sustained, which is its mainstay and greatest strength," the statement began.

"In this context, the FC Barcelona Board of Directors accepted, as a matter of immediate urgency, the offer to form part, as the founding member, of the Super League, a competition designed to improve the quality and attractiveness of the product offered to the football fans and, at the same time, and as one of FC Barcelona's most inalienable principles, seek new formulas for solidarity with the football family as a whole.

"The decision was made in the conviction that it would have been a historical error to turn down the opportunity to be part of this project as one of its founding members. As one of the world's top sports club, our intention shall always be to be at the forefront, this being an indispensable part of the club's identity and its sporting, social and institutional spirit."

Despite the project seemingly being left in tatters, Perez insisted the project the Super League is "not dead" in an interview with Spanish radio station El Larguero.

Barca said more analysis is clearly needed but said such examination must take place in the absence of "unjustified pressure and intimidation".

The statement added: "Given the public reaction that the aforementioned project has generated in many and various spheres, there is no question that FC Barcelona appreciates that a much more in-depth analysis is required into the reasons that have caused this reaction in order to reconsider, if necessary, and to the required extent, the proposal as originally formulated and resolve all those issues, always for the good of the general interest of the football world. Such in-depth analysis needs time and the necessary composure to avoid taking any rash action.

"We feel it is equally important to highlight the objective fact that a Court of Justice has already granted urgent legal protection as requested, thus confirming right of the initiative on the part of the founding clubs of the Super League project.

"In this regard, FC Barcelona considers that it would be improper for the necessary process of reflection and debate to be established under criteria of unjustified pressure and intimidation.

"Despite being perfectly aware of the importance and interest raised by this matter, as well as the need to always act with the utmost transparency, FC Barcelona shall act at all times with due prudence and asks for the utmost understanding, respect and most of all patience among FC Barcelona supporters and public opinion in general."

Aleksander Ceferin says Florentino Perez is "the president of nothing" and believes the controversial European Super League was "an attempt to create a phantom league of the rich".

On Sunday, Real Madrid president Perez was named as chairman of the hugely divisive competition, with Los Blancos named among 12 founding members planning to play in a breakaway league.

However, just two days later, Premier League clubs Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham all pulled out amid a huge backlash from the Football Association, the UK government, fans, pundits and players.

Despite the competition crumbling before it got off the ground, Perez launched another staunch defence when speaking to Cadena SER's El Larguero radio show late on Wednesday, having earlier this week stated the Super League was vital for the future of clubs struggling financially in the COVID-19 pandemic.

UEFA chief Ceferin believes Perez and other presidents should not be solely blaming the coronavirus crisis for huge losses, making pointed remarks in an interview with Slovenian broadcaster Pop TV.

"I might want to say something else that Perez said earlier – clubs have losses, but also because they are poorly run," Ceferin said.

"If you overpay players, unsuitable players, and therefore do not achieve a result, it means a loss to you. 

"For example, Bayern Munich have no losses and have won the Champions League. You cannot just blame COVID-19, which many do.

"Perez is the president of a Super League that didn't exist. At the moment he's the president of nothing.

"Perez would like a [UEFA] president that will listen to him and a president that will do as he tells him. But I am trying to work in European and world soccer's best interests.

"I'm actually horrified that by being enormously rich, profit means so much more than values. You can tell lies; you can enter players and the coaches into a new competition without them knowing anything about it."

Perez insists the idea of the Super League is not dead in the water, but Ceferin remains convinced it was little more than a power play to try to protect the interests of football's richest clubs.

"In my opinion, the Super League never existed," Ceferin added.

"It was an attempt to create a phantom league of the rich that wouldn't follow any system, that wouldn't take into account the pyramid structure of football in Europe, its culture, tradition or history."

Perez bizarrely cited a lack of interest from the younger generation among reasons for wanting to form the league, even suggesting matches could be shortened from the current time of 90 minutes.

But Ceferin again disputed the point, adding: "Young people are very interested in a football match, it's completely clear to me.

"The fact is that football is a sport, it's a passion, a school of life, you can learn a lot from football. I learned a lot from football myself.

"You can't look at football as a product, you can't look at the players as customers or consumers, you can't look at how many you have in your account or how many new followers you have on Twitter instead of the result after the game. This has become common with certain big club owners and they have simply lost touch with reality and reality was clearly shown in the UK 24 hours or so ago."

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