The breakaway European Super League appeared to be collapsing on Tuesday night as reports emerged of clubs withdrawing and key personnel resigning.
Chelsea looked set to become the first of the 12 rebel clubs to quit the controversial project while Ed Woodward was understood to have resigned as Manchester United executive vice-chairman.
There were also reports that Manchester City, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona were set to withdraw while there were conflicting claims in Italy over whether Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli was still holding the role.
The PA news agency understands Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich drove the decision to remove his club from the competition amid widespread condemnation of the concept and considerable fan disquiet.
The Chelsea team were met by protesting supporters as they arrived at Stamford Bridge for their Premier League game against Brighton on Tuesday.
The Chelsea development was soon followed by claims that City would be following them out.
City refused to comment when contacted by the PA news agency.
“We cannot comment for legal reasons,” said a spokesperson.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson took to Twitter, saying: “The decision by Chelsea and Manchester City is – if confirmed – absolutely the right one and I commend them for it. I hope the other clubs involved in the European Super League will follow their lead.”
The positions of United and Liverpool, two of the other members of English football’s ‘big six’ were thought not to have changed, although news also broke on Tuesday of Woodward’s decision.
Woodward, 49, who has been at the helm at Old Trafford since 2013, is thought to have played a key role in the development of the Super League.
It is understood he will continue he will remain at United in his current position until the end of 2021.
Meanwhile, there were conflicting reports in Italy as to whether Juventus chairman Agnelli was still in position at the club.