Football's most powerful clubs are facing mounting calls for reprisals over the European Super League fiasco, as the rebel competition's boss insisted it was merely "on standby" despite nine teams pulling out.
In an extraordinary radio interview Super League chief Florentino Perez, president of Real Madrid, complained about the "aggression" prompted by the breakaway league, which collapsed just 48 hours after its unveiling following blanket opposition from fans, officials and national political leaders.
Reaction to the incendiary scheme was scathing this week.
Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea withdrew on Wednesday, followed by Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan on Wednesday.
It leaves just Barcelona and Perez's Real Madrid, along with Italian champions Juventus — who admitted the lucrative project could not now go ahead.
The so-called "Dirty Dozen" breakaway clubs were reported to be in line to split a $5.4 billion pool with their ambitious plot to replace the prestigious Champions League.
Turning and fleeing like whipped little dogs, Manchester City and Chelsea have both claimed to have been the first of the English clubs to pull out of the doomed attempt to rip the heart of football.
Perez, the 'traitor' of European football, is still refusing to admit his shameful rebellion is done and is continuing to work towards salvaging the Super League project.
The English club that killed the Super League
Perez, the top boss of Spain's biggest construction company with an estimated net worth of more than $2.3 billion, blames an English club for sowing seeds of doubt, and accused UEFA of being overly dramatic.
"There was someone in the English group, who didn't have much interest in the Super League," he said.
"And they started infecting the rest. They all signed a binding agreement but in the end because of the Premier League avalanche, they said 'hey, we're off'.
"There was a club that you could tell wasn't as interested but they worked with us and signed up."
Later in the interview with Spain's Cadena Ser radio, Perez confirmed he was referring to Manchester City, the club owned by Sheikh Mansour, a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family, as the club that triggered his downfall.
"The one from Manchester saw the campaign saying this will kill the leagues, that it won't allow [sporting] merit, that it was the end of football," he said before being asked why the English clubs had pulled out.
"Because they saw the atmosphere. UEFA turned it into a show. It was as if we had dropped an atomic bomb," he said.
"Maybe we didn't explain it well but they didn't give us the chance to. Why? Because they didn't want us to. I have never seen such aggressiveness; it was orchestrated. They next day they killed us. They were waiting for us. I think they knew we were going to do it. There were threats, insults, as if we had killed football. They got scared."
Where does football go from here after the failed coup of 2021?
Despite the tournament's swift demise, Perez is defiant, saying: "The project is on standby. The project exists." "I am sad and disappointed. We have been working on this for three years and fighting against the financial situation in Spanish football," added Perez.
The clubs apologised to their fans for joining the ill-conceived, JPMorgan-backed league, which drew accusations of greed and a lack of respect for football's traditions.
The powerhouse clubs, saddled with huge debts and wage bills, stood to share billions from the annual league, where they were guaranteed entry each year.
But they quickly backtracked following strident objections from European and world bodies UEFA and FIFA, threats of legal action and protests by fans.
UEFA's executive committee will now decide whether to punish the "dirty dozen" at its next meeting on Saturday, according to Swedish vice-president Karl-Erik Nilsson.
"It's already had consequences one way or another, with the shame they have to live with now," Nilsson told football website Fotbollskanalen.
"There will be consequences in their own organisations, and whether there will be further consequences is something we need to discuss."
Supporter groups are calling for "real change" at their clubs, whose foreign owners are often seen as aloof and out of touch with fans.
"The Super League is dead. Now we need to work with government to change how English football clubs are owned," said the Arsenal Supporters' Trust, while the Spirit of Shankly accused Liverpool owner John Henry of "crocodile tears".
"This debacle must be a catalyst for real change, not an exercise in damage limitation," the fan group said.
Guardian columnist Jonathan Liew said it was "time to get vindictive".
"Points deductions, suspensions, expulsions, eye-watering fines, transfer embargoes: none of this should be taken off the table at this stage," he wrote, suggesting a two-year ban from European competition for all 12 clubs.