Prince William 'glad' football fans listened to on European Super League

Liverpool and Manchester United's owners have responded to the furore over the proposed Super League, ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott reports

Prince William said he is "glad" football fans have been "heard and listened to" follow the withdrawal of England's 'Big Six' from the European Super League.

The Duke of Cambridge, who is president of the Football Association (FA), added now was the time to “secure the future health of the game at all levels”.

In a tweet from the Kensington Royal account, he said: “I’m glad the united voice of football fans has been heard and listened to. It is now really important that we use this moment to secure the future health of the game at all levels.

“As President of the FA, I’m committed to playing my part in that work.”

Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham all pulled out the proposed breakaway league on Tuesday night after intense pressure from fans and politicians alike.

Fans protested outside Leeds' Elland Road stadium and Chelsea's Stamford Bridge in anger at the proposals. Tottenham fans gathered outside White Hart Lane on Wednesday, with some calling for chairman Daniel Levy to resign.

The government ordered a fan-led review into how elite football needs to change in Britain.

The sports secretary has given his backing to a "German model" for football in the UK, which would see fans own a minimum 51% stake in their club.

Oliver Dowden told ITV News the government's fan-led review will "make sure we put better processes in place in future, particularly looking at the money, the governance, and looking at the fan experience".

Asked what needs to change, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary said during conversations between himself, the prime minister and football fans yesterday, he was "struck" by the system in Germany in which fans own 51% of clubs.

"They talked about the German model - German clubs didn't take part in this, that's because fans had the greater stake in it."

He added: "We've seen over time fans stake in clubs erode, I think its important we look at that to give fans greater influence and control."

It is unclear how that model could be brought to Britain's football leagues, given it would cost hundreds of millions of pounds for fans to become majority stake holders in their clubs.

Oliver Dowden on what needs to change in English football:

For example, Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan paid £150 million to buy the club in 2008 and has since pour billions into it, transforming it from a mid-table side to a European giant with four Premier League titles.

Forbes has now estimated the club to be worth £2.9 billion, meaning it would likely cost at least half of that for fans to buy a majority share.

An expensive price tag applies to all of the 'Big Six' breakaway clubs, which also includes Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Liverpool.

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Mr Dowden did also not rule out appointing an independent regulator to oversee the game.

He said: "I think we also need to see whether the existing governing structures work and whether we need some sort of regulator overseeing that.

"I'm very reluctant to do those things but I think its right that it's examined."

English clubs have begun the process of apologising to fans for their proposed participation in the league.

Manchester United co-chairman Joel Glazer said the club “apologise unreservedly for the unrest caused during these past few days” in an open letter published on the club’s website.

He wrote: “Over the past few days, we have all witnessed the great passion which football generates, and the deep loyalty our fans have for this great club.

“You made very clear your opposition to the European Super League, and we have listened. We got it wrong, and we want to show that we can put things right.

Liverpool’s principal owner John W Henry has apologised for his part in the proposed European Super League.

Henry said in a video posted by the club on Twitter that the ESL would only have worked with fans’ full support.

A Tottenham Hotspur fan protests against the clubs decision to be included amongst the clubs attempting to form a new European Super League, Credit: PA

“I want to apologise to all the fans and supporters of Liverpool Football Club for the disruption I caused over the last 48 hours,” he said.

In an open letter to fans on the clubs' website, Arsenal said: "The last few days have shown us yet again the depth of feeling our supporters around the world have for this great club and the game we love.

"We needed no reminding of this but the response from supporters in recent days has given us time for further reflection and deep thought.

"It was never our intention to cause such distress, however when the invitation to join the Super League came, while knowing there were no guarantees, we did not want to be left behind to ensure we protected Arsenal and its future. 

"As a result of listening to you and the wider football community over recent days we are withdrawing from the proposed Super League. We made a mistake, and we apologise for it."

On Wednesday the ESL said: "Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due to the pressure put on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations."

Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli told Italian newspaper Le Repubblica that the remaining clubs will "press ahead" and the project still had "a 100% chance of being a success".

The league was heavily criticised on a number of fronts, mostly over the way the twelve founding clubs had agreed they could not be relegated.

Mr Dowden welcomed the move by English clubs to pulling out of the league after they apologised to their fans for planning a breakaway.

"I'm delighted by the news. It's a victory for fans and fans should savour it," he said.