European Super League unravels as English clubs pull out; Gordon D’Arcy on a final Lions audition

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Chelsea fans protest against the European Super League outside Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night ahead of their game against Brighton. Photograph: Rob Pinney/Getty

Chelsea fans protest against the European Super League outside Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night ahead of their game against Brighton. Photograph: Rob Pinney/Getty

The European Super League is on life support just days after the proposals were revealed, with all six English clubs pulling out of the competition last night amid widespread criticism across the continent. The plans, which would have seen 12 clubs form a breakaway competition, had been lambasted throughout the day and seemingly began to unravel ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Brighton. Around 1,000 supporters protested the plans outside Stamford Bridge before it was announced the Blues would be the first side to withdraw. Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and Manchester City all all later released statements last night to confirm their intended U-turns. The European Super League has subsequently released a statement of their own, vowing to reshape the proposals which it insists are legally sound. A dramatic evening also saw Manchester United confirm controversial vice executive chairman Ed Woodward is to leave his role at the end of the season, but maintain this was unrelated to the collapse of the Super League. On the pitch, Brighton held lacklustre Chelsea to a goalless draw with Danny Welbeck hitting the post late on for the Seagulls. There are two Premier League fixtures tonight - 29-year-old Ryan Mason takes charge of Spurs for the first time as they take on Southampton at home (6pm), while Manchester City travel to play Aston Villa (8.15pm).

In his column this morning Gordon D’Arcy has looked ahead to Saturday’s clash between Leinster and Munster - a fixture which will remain competitive despite yesterday’s effective collapse of the inaugural Rainbow Cup. And D’Arcy has suggested the match - which will have echoes of Rocky V - can serve as one final Lions audition for some Irish stars who could be struggling to make the plane to South Africa. He writes: “As a bolter, Joey Carbery would need to light the RDS up on Saturday. He knows that Leinster is the worst place to come when you are trying to prove a point.” And he has also asked who is going to finally take some responsibility for women’s rugby in Ireland, following last weekend’s heavy Six Nations defeat to France. “History will show that the greatest period in the history of the men’s game - when our carefully created professional structures allowed Ireland to become the second best team in the world - also covers a pass-the-parcel treatment around our women’s game.”

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