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Liverpool owner John W Henry apologises for European Super League proposal

Liverpool owner John W Henry has apologised to the club’s supporters for the “disruption” caused by the proposed European Super League (ESL).

Henry took sole responsibility for the “unnecessary negativity”, saying: “In this endeavour I’ve let you down.”

The Reds and five other Premier League sides withdrew from the ESL on Tuesday evening after a furious backlash.

“The project put forward was never going to stand without the support of the fans,” said American Henry.

“Over these 48 hours you were very clear that it would not stand. We heard you. I heard you.”

The other five Premier League clubs involved – Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham – also pulled out on Tuesday evening.

In other developments on Wednesday morning:

  • Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli admitted the project could not proceed after the Premier League clubs withdrew.
  • AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid followed suit, taking the total withdrawals to nine.
  • Rival managers, chairman and officials called for tighter regulations and possible punishments for the six English clubs.

Before Liverpool’s statement confirming the club’s withdrawal, captain Jordan Henderson had said on social media his side’s “collective position” was that they did not want the breakaway to go ahead.

“We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen,” read a message that was also posted by many fellow Liverpool players.

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp and midfielder James Milner also voiced their opposition to the plans after their Premier League game at Leeds on Monday.

In a video released by Liverpool,external-link Henry also apologised to Klopp, the players and chief executive Billy Hogan, promising to do all he could to win back the supporters’ trust.

“They have absolutely no responsibility for this disruption,” added Henry. “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.”

“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.”

‘Uefa need to stop pandering to these people’

In a statement, Liverpool supporters group Spirit of Shankly said Henry’s apology was a “PR exercise” that was “too little, too late”.

“We need a fundamental change in football governance,” it added. “One that is fair for the whole football pyramid, not just the rapacious elite.”

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish called the ESL plans an “attempted coup” and said the authorities should now stand up to any club pushing for favourable treatment.

He told BBC Breakfast: “What Uefa need to do is start looking after the game and stop pandering to these people and trying desperately to keep them inside the tent because they’re going to be inside the tent now whatever happens.”

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the rules needed to be “tightened significantly” to make sure this never happened again.

When asked whether the six English clubs should be punished with points deductions, he added that was “certainly something the Premier League and Football Association need to look at”.

West Brom manager Sam Allardyce said the idea of a Super League had merely been put on hold and without “better protection” we would see similar proposals “again and again”.

Former Liverpool winger John Barnes went as far as suggesting a salary cap needed to be introduced to ensure “a level playing field” for every team in the Premier League.

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