Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was reportedly taken aback by the strength of the reaction to the proposed European Super League.
The kick-off for Tuesday’s home match against Brighton was delayed after furious fans blocked the Chelsea team coach while protesting against their club signing up for the ESL.
By the end of the night Chelsea and the other five English clubs which signed up for the project – Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United – announced they were withdrawing.
The Sun reports that chairman Bruce Buck led that Chelsea withdrawal but that it ultimately came as a result of Abramovich’s reaction to the anger the plans caused.
The newspaper say he was furious at being ‘blindsided’ and that he felt he had been misinformed about the likely reaction to the ESL.
A source is quoted as saying Abramovich “had no idea that there would be such a backlash” against the proposals.
Former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, now the club’s technical and performance adviser, pleaded with fans outside Stamford Bridge to allow the team coach to pass.
On the pitch, it was a much less eventful affair with Thomas Tuchel’s side performing below par in a goalless draw with strugglers Brighton, who twice went close to scoring late in the match.