Chelsea in EPL top 4, out of Super League

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel with his players after their Premier League draw with Brighton.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel with his players after their Premier League draw with Brighton.

Chelsea's ownership climbed down from plans to join a breakaway Super League as their team climbed into the top four of the Premier League with a far-from-impressive goalless draw against Brighton & Hove Albion.

The Blues were stifled inside Stamford Bridge, barely creating a clear-cut chance against the relegation-threatened visitors who nearly snatched victory in the final 15 minutes when Danny Welbeck struck the post.

Defender Ben White was sent off in stoppage time for Brighton after collecting a second yellow card.

The point moved Chelsea above West Ham United - who they face this weekend - on goal difference and into fourth place, the final Champions League qualification position.

There was more to celebrate outside the stadium for Chelsea's fans who had gathered before the match to protest against the club's decision, first announced late Sunday, to be involved in a controversial closed-off European league for elite clubs.

Kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes after Chelsea's team bus was slowed getting into Stamford Bridge because of the protests.

Petr Cech, Chelsea's technical director, got off the bus to talk to the angry supporters, who could be heard calling him a "traitor" in video footage on social media.

About the same time, fans were seen jumping up and down in celebration as reports filtered through that the club was withdrawing from the Super League.

"It was nice to see the supporters out there, it was nice to see that feeling, that emotion, and everyone's response today," Brighton manager Graham Potter said.

"It was universal in how everyone got behind the issue."

Tuchel said he and his players had been affected by all the talk about the Super League.

"We talk of nothing else but Super League before the match," he said.

"Nobody asked about the match."

During the game, Manchester City became the first club to confirm their withdrawal from the Super League scheme while Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and then Chelsea all made their commitment to walk away official.

Brighton are seven points clear of the relegation zone and have a game in hand over third-from-last Fulham.

Australian Associated Press