Super League: political pressure that changed Manchester City’s mind

According to the Times, Lord Udny-Lister, in charge of UK relations with the Gulf, pressured the UAE to get Manchester City, controlled by Sheikh Mansour, to drop the Super League project.

When football becomes a political issue. Threatened with a vast upheaval in its organization and its values, the Europe of football took a big blow when, one by one, the twelve founding clubs withdrew from the project to create the Super League. If Florentino Perez, president of Real Madrid and main instigator of this super-competition between historic teams, assured that it was on “stand by” rather than permanently abandoned, the Super League could have had seismic consequences for the future of European clubs.

While Manchester City were to be one of six English clubs to enter the Super League – along with both Manchester, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham – the current Premier League leader finally stepped down first. To meet the demand of the fans, is the wind up against the emergence of competition? Maybe not only.

>> The crisis of the Super League live

“A very positive signal for relations between the two countries if this project does not come to an end”

In today’s edition, the Times understands that the Cityzens have moved away from the project for primarily political reasons. Lord Udny-Lister, Boris Johnson’s trusted man in charge of the United Kingdom’s relations with the Gulf, would thus have come into direct contact with the government of the United Arab Emirates, following the formalization of the participation of the club of Manchester at the new competition.

The British special envoy, on the orders of the British Prime Minister, is said to have assured that City’s participation in the Super League would damage relations between the country and the United Kingdom, while the club is owned by Abu Dhabi United Group, controlled by Sheikh Mansour – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs of the United Arab Emirates. The first sporting issue would therefore quickly become a major political and diplomatic issue, Lord Udny-Lister putting pressure on this issue. “He made it clear to them that it would be a very positive signal for relations between the two countries if this project did not come to an end,” relays a source familiar with the matter to the Times. Shortly after, Manchester City withdrew from the project.

What if, finally, this political pressure had indeed caused a chain reaction and the defection of a first English club? Provoking a cascade of withdrawals from other Premier League clubs involved, then with them the abandonment of other slingers? The immediate future of the Super League may have played out here.

Romain Daveau Journalist RMC Sport

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