Manchester City “lost sight of the historic values of the club” when they signed up to the doomed European Super League, according to chief executive Ferran Soriano.
City were one of 12 clubs to send shockwaves through football by being confirmed as founding members of the doomed breakaway on Sunday.
Widespread criticism from within football – including pointed remarks from City manager Pep Guardiola – and beyond prompted a rethink from those involved, with the Premier League leaders the first of the English top flight’s ‘big six’ to formally confirm their U-turn amid a string of dramatic developments on Tuesday.
A one-paragraph, 25-word statement on the club website did little to placate fan anger, something Soriano has sought to address in an email to club members.
“I am sorry it has taken a little time, but the circumstances have been somewhat exceptional and it was important to me to contact you directly,” Soriano wrote in a statement that began “Dear Supporter”.
“As always, when we make choices and decisions, we do so with the best interests of the club in mind and we believed that being part of such an initiative could give us a voice that might be imperative to our future ability to succeed and grow.”
At his news conference to preview Wednesday’s Premier League match at Aston Villa, Guardiola criticised the closed-shop element of the planned Super League, remarking that a competition without the link between effort and success is “not sport” – something Soriano claimed he and his colleagues in the boardroom “failed to remind ourselves of”.
“In making that choice we failed to remind ourselves of the unbreakable link between the passion of our fans and the right to have the opportunity to earn success,” he continued.
“It is a truth that is fundamental to the DNA of Manchester City and the board deeply regrets taking a decision that lost sight of the historic values of the club. We made a mistake and we sincerely apologise to our fans for the disappointment, frustration and anguish caused by the last 72 hours.
“I want to personally assure you that the owners, chairman, board and staff are completely committed to ensuring that the club continues to contribute meaningfully to the ongoing well-being of both the English and European football pyramids and their associated competitions.
“We will embrace the opportunity to earn back the full trust of our stakeholders and the football family in general.”
Manchester United executive chairman Ed Woodward announced his intention to step down at the end of 2021 as the Super League collapse unfolded.
Soriano has joined Liverpool owner John Henry, who posted a video message via his club’s Twitter page, in addressing a mea culpa directly to supporters.
Joel Glazer, United’s co-chair, signed a message to fans on their official website – the first direct communication with fans from the club’s owning family since 2005.