American businessmen John Henry and Joel Glazer, who this week became two scourges of global soccer for dragging Liverpool and Manchester United into a doomed “Super League,” apologized to fans and to their clubs on Wednesday.
Liverpool and Man United were two of 12 clubs who attempted to break away from existing European leagues and form their own elite, semi-exclusive league. The plan met resistance from every corner of the sport – from players, coaches, executives, celebrities, politicians, and most of all, fans. On Tuesday night, it collapsed.
On Wednesday, Henry, who owns Liverpool, recorded a two-and-a-half-minute video in which he said, “I alone am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought forward over the past couple of days. It’s something I won’t forget.”
Glazer, whose family owns Manchester United, admitted in a seemingly contrite letter: “We got it wrong, and we want to show that we can put things right.”
But many fans felt the apologies rang hollow.
Fans responded to United’s release of the letter on Twitter with messages such as “LOL f*** off Joel” and “Get out.”
How Glazer, Henry ‘let down’ their clubs
Glazer was a vice-chairman of the Super League, and said in a Sunday announcement that the league “will open a new chapter for European football, ensuring world-class competition and facilities, and increased financial support for the wider football pyramid.”
But the shoddy, brazen plot angered millions of fans, especially those in England. It exposed how out of touch some foreign owners are with the principles and passion of their clubs’ supporters, and even with their managers and players. Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp hated the plan. The players, led by captain Jordan Henderson, put out a simple statement on Tuesday: “We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen.”
The owners never consulted players or coaches. And, by not showing their faces – only Real Madrid president Florentino Perez spoke publicly in the 48 hours after the announcement – they hung players and coaches out to dry, forcing them, in interviews, to either support something wildly unpopular or criticize their own club.
“I want to apologize to Jurgen, to [CEO Billy Hogan], to the players and to everyone who works so hard at LFC to make our fans proud,” Henry said Wednesday. “They have absolutely no responsibility for this disruption. 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.”
And he told fans: “I’ve let you down.”
Glazer, in his letter, said: “Although the wounds are raw and I understand that it will take time for the scars to heal, I am personally committed to rebuilding trust with our fans and learning from the message you delivered with such conviction.”
What about Stan Kroenke?
Meanwhile, the two other American owners involved in the Super League, Arsenal’s Stan Kroenke and AC Milan’s Paul Singer, have been silent.
Many Arsenal fans have long campaigned for Kroenke, who has overseen the club’s demise, to sell it
The embarrassment of the Super League saga led club legend Ian Wright to join the chorus: “#KroenkeOut.”
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