Chelsea want to withdraw from the controversial Super League, it has been confirmed, as former goalkeeper Petr Cech was forced to personally plead with fans outside Stamford Bridge after protests at the club's involvement in the competition prevented the team coach reaching the stadium.
Angry Blues supporters gathered outside the stadium ahead of Chelsea's Premier League meeting with Brighton on Tuesday night after the club were confirmed as one of the 12 founding sides of the competition which has sparked outrage around the world of football.
The crowd stopped the Chelsea team bus reaching the ground, forcing Cech - now technical director at the club - to ask them to let the coach through, amid reports which broke on Tuesday night saying the Blues will now withdraw from the Super League.
Fans gathered outside Stamford Bridge to protest Chelsea joining with Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona in a breakaway competition, in which their participation would be ring-fenced.
Supporters with banners and flares blocked the road to the ground ahead of the meeting with Brighton, causing Cech to meet protestors to try and calm the situation.
In a video taken at the protest, Cech can be heard urging fans to "let people sort it out" and "let the bus go in", while some fans present can be heard calling him a "traitor".
Chelsea set to withdraw
As the extraordinary scenes played out, it emerged in reports – since confirmed by Goal – that Chelsea want to withdraw from the Super League.
Chelsea’s move comes after major concerns were raised in a meeting between the players and chairman Bruce Buck on Monday.
The Blues have been threatened with losing their spot in the Champions League, where they are due to face Real Madrid in the semi-finals next week, while they could be kicked out of UEFA competition next season as well.
International performers, meanwhile, may be banned from competing in this summer's European Championship if sanctions are pushed through.
There was no communication from above ahead of the announcement on Sunday evening, leaving club staff to receive the news in the same way that the general public did.
It is thought that several players in the Blues group are concerned after hearing UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin threaten action on them in the coming weeks should the club stand firm.
What has been the reaction to the Super League?
The news that 12 European clubs want to start their own tournament from which they cannot be relegated and in which they will compete every season, in competition with domestic leagues and the Champions League, has sparked fury throughout football.
There were also protests outside Elland Road on Monday before Liverpool's away game against Leeds United, with the Whites players warming up in t-shirts condemning the breakaway.
The other 14 Premier League clubs held a meeting on Tuesday, at which they voted to "unanimously and vigorously" reject the Super League.
What has been said by Chelsea?
No official statement has been made regarding the Super League since Sunday, with manager Thomas Tuchel left to bear the brunt of fan and media pressure.
"It's maybe impossible for the players to not to be influenced by any of it, but it's too early and there are a lot of opinions out there," Tuchel said at his pre-match press conference on Monday.
"I can totally understand the emotion on this and you want more response from Chelsea. I can absolutely understand every single argument but it has to be clear that I am not the guy for these questions. I am not part of the board or these decisions.
"I am not part of the work that was put in or not put in. I don't know the details of all this and that's why. I can understand that you want more answers to get the bigger picture but I am clearly not the guy."
By Emma Smith
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