Power grab threat removed as clubs reject Project Big Picture
Wednesday, 14th Oct 2020 21:48 by Tim Whelan
A meeting of the 20 Premier League clubs today unanimously agreed that the so-called ‘Project Big Picture’ will not be going ahead, but they will still be providing some assistance to the EFL.
Project Big Picture was proposed by the self-styled ‘big 6 clubs of English football, though it’s believed that the main movers behind it were Liverpool and Manchester United. Two mighty clubs who happened to concede 13 goals between them in the most recent round of Premier League matches.
The proposals would have given special voting rights to the nine clubs who have been in the Premier League the longest, though only two thirds of them would need to agree to force anything through, in other words, the biggest six clubs. The League Cup and Community Shield would have gone, and the big clubs could potentially have used their new powers to negotiate their own TV deals, at the expense of everyone else.
Surprisingly, the plans was backed by EFL chief executive Rick Parry, on the grounds that the Football League was desperate for the money being offered to his 72 clubs in these difficult times. But then again Parry is a former Liverpool Chief Executive, and already has form in damaging the grass roots of English football, when he helped to set up the Premier League in 1992.
Everyone else in football was horrified by these ideas, from the Premier League, the FA and the government to supporters’ organisations. I’m surprised there was no comment from our own Andrea Radrizzani, as he must have been shocked by the possibility of losing his place at the top table so soon after he had finally managed to get us into the Premier League.
The supporters organisations of the big six weren’t so reticent, and put out a joint statement saying that “while the six clubs we support are widely reported to be the instigators of Project Big Picture, it is important we state very clearly that we do not support the proposals in their current form. The fans we represent are fortunate to support clubs that regularly secure the largest financial revenues in the Premier League. But all of us understand that football doesn’t work in isolation.”
They acknowledge there needs to be some reform of the game and a fairer distribution of income to all levels, but want supporters organisations to be consulted throughout the process. The statement was issued by the Man City Supporters Club, ‘Spirit of Shankly’ and the Supporters Trusts at Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea and Man United.
The plans have been drawn up in secret over the past three years, but there was never any chance of them being approved by the required 14 Premier League clubs (the two thirds of all members required by the current constitution). FA chairman Greg Clarke said that a breakaway league was threatened in April if the top clubs didn’t get their own way, but he warned them that a new league would never be endorsed by the FA, so the clubs involved wouldn’t be able to compete in Europe.
Instead a more sensible conclusion was reached today at a video conference of all 20 Premier League clubs . They unanimously agreed that Project Big Picture will not be endorsed or pursued by the Premier League, or The FA. But the more welcome parts of the plan will still go forward, as they agreed to work on the future structures and financing of English football.
Tonight a Premier League statement said the clubs will “work together as a 20-club collective on a strategic plan, to ensure a vibrant, competitive and sustainable football pyramid. ability. This project has the full support of The FA and will include engagement with all relevant stakeholders including fans, Government and, of course, the EFL.”
“Also at today’s meeting it was agreed to make available a rescue package which aims to ensure that League One and League Two clubs will not go out of business as a result of the financial impact of COVID-19 and be able to complete the 2020/21 season. Football is not the same without attending fans and the football economy is unsustainable without them. The Premier League and all our clubs remain committed to the safe return of fans as soon as possible.”
League One and League Two will now receive grants and interest-free loans totalling a further £50m on top of the £27.2m solidarity payments already advanced, to make up for the loss of gate and hospitality income suffered by these clubs, who don’t have a big TV contract to make up the shortfall.
Let’s hope that this cash injection is enough to make sure that no Football League clubs go out of business during the current crisis. And that this is the last we hear of attempts by the biggest clubs to grab more power and money for themselves at the expense of everybody else.
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