The British government has come forward with a strong denunciation of plans reportedly driven by Manchester United and Liverpool owners to overhaul the entire structures of the Premier League and English club football.
The Telegraph on Sunday detailed a set of proposals called “Project Big Picture”, which would reduce the number of teams in the Premier League from 20 to 18 and effectively abolish the competition’s one-club, one-vote principle and hand absolute power to the nine longest-serving teams in the division, with the so-called “Big Six” having effective veto power on a range of issues, including potential new owners taking control of a rival club.
Apparently the wider league system would be supported by the plans amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with a £250-million rescue package to be allocated to the English Football League (EFL) and a £100m gift to the Football Association.
EFL chairman Rick Parry – the former Liverpool chief executive and a key figure in the Premier League’s breakaway from the Football League in 1992 – has come under fire by the Government for publicly backing the plans, which would purportedly also see 25 per cent of the Premier League’s annual revenue diverted to the EFL and the scrapping of the EFL Cup and Community Shield.
The Department for Media, Culture and Sport has joined hands with the Premier League in condemning the mooted changes, decrying Liverpool and United’s alleged involvement in “backroom deals”.
“We are surprised and disappointed that, at a time of crisis when we have urged the top tiers of professional football to come together and finalise a deal to help lower league clubs, there appear to be backroom deals being cooked up that would create a closed shop at the very top of the game,” an official statement read.
“Sustainability, integrity and fair competition are absolutely paramount and anything that may undermine them is deeply troubling.
“Fans must be [at the] front of all our minds and this shows why our fan-led review of football governance will be so critical.”
The Premier League, which has come in for criticism over recent days after the announcement of a pay-per-view television model to run while fans are not allowed into stadiums, urged its members to contribute to ongoing restructuring talks “through the proper channels”.
“English football is the world’s most watched, and has a vibrant, dynamic and competitive league structure that drives interest around the globe,” its statement read.
“To maintain this position, it is important that we all work together.
“In the Premier League’s view, a number of the individual proposals in the plan published today could have a damaging impact on the whole game and we are disappointed to see that Rick Parry, Chair of the EFL, has given his on-the-record support.
“The Premier League has been working in good faith with its clubs and the EFL to seek a resolution to the requirement for COVID-19 rescue funding.”
In a statement published on the EFL’s official website, chairman Parry confirmed talks regarding Project Big Picture had been ongoing for some time but insisted the financial pressures of the COVID-19 crisis had sharpened the need for transformative action.
“Now is the time to address both the long-term health of the game and the most challenging short-term crisis it has ever faced,” Parry said.
“Project Big Picture provides a new beginning which will revitalise the football pyramid at all levels. This new beginning will reinvigorate clubs in the lower leagues and the communities in which they are based.
“The whole of English football has been negatively impacted by this pandemic and the English football pyramid as a whole is only as healthy as those at its base.
“Through this proposed restructuring we aim to strengthen those who need it most at a time when they need it most. This is about building on what is good and making the most of what works well in order to benefit the game as a whole, while simultaneously tackling those issues which trouble all of us.
“This is a blueprint for the future of English football and for everyone who cherishes it.” (What a load of hogwash!)
This latest diabolical proposal being driven by Manchester United and Liverpool is nothing short of a twisted fantasy to strengthen the top 6 clubs of the Premier League and perpetuate their unquestionable dominance for generations to come at the cost of everyone else. This is one sleazy, underhanded way of ensuring that no other club will ever be in a position to challenge their authority, something akin to a cartel in the criminal underworld syndicate.
Among the key proposals from the leaked report are:
- the League Cup and Community Shield will be scrapped
- Premier League would be shrunk down to 18 teams
- changes to the loan system that would allow clubs to send 15 players out on loan domestically
- a women’s professional league independent of the Premier League & the FA
- the most controversial aspect of this would be that there would be no more 1 club, 1 vote principle which has stood the test of time
- the minimum threshold of 14 votes to pass any regulation change would also be scrapped
Essentially, nine clubs will get to dictate how everything is run and will effectively have a veto on how everything is run. The nine clubs will be the Top 6 and Everton, West Ham United and Southampton (on the basis of how long they have been in the Premier League) and in the future, a vote from any 6 of those clubs will be enough for any regulation to pass.
It’s clear the Big 6 are without any moral scruples and gleefully dangling relief money in the face of financially-wrought smaller clubs to see them through this Covid 19 crisis in order to get their machiavellian agenda pushed through. This plan is obviously a permanent fix for the bigger clubs in lieu of a £250-million rescue package to the EFL – besides 25% of the Premier League’s annual revenue being allocated to the EFL clubs while the FA would also be gifted £100m – to help see them through the coronavirus crisis.
How thoughtful and considerate, one could easily be deceived to think.
Despicable is the more appropriate word in having the premeditated hidden agenda of using this global Covid 19 humanitarian crisis to push forward generational changes for themselves that the Big 6 know that they would not be able to get through otherwise. Knowing fully well that many of the EFL clubs would crumble without any kind of financial bailout, these big boys are now bringing out the big butcher knives to carve out their pound of flesh under the guise of helping to save the smaller clubs.
While one wouldn’t expect Premier League clubs to be the beacons of morality, it is shameless and outrageous of them to take advantage of a pandemic to further their hidden agendas for pre-eminence and dominance. With the outrage that has greeted this proposal, hopefully, this will be stalled in its track before it goes any further.
Kudos to the Premier League for taking a firm stance and expressing its disappointment that EFL chairman Rick Parry is supporting “damaging” radical plans for an overhaul of the top flight.
“In the Premier League’s view, a number of the individual proposals in the plan could have a damaging impact on the whole game and we are disappointed to see that Rick Parry, chair of the EFL, has given his on-the-record support,” read a Premier League statement.
“The Premier League has been working in good faith with its clubs and the EFL to seek a resolution to the requirement for Covid-19 rescue funding. This work will continue.”
Whatever his personal motives are for backing such a move, chairman Parry is certainly looking a shade dodgy for believing that the mooted radical plans for an overhaul of the Premier League are designed “for the greater good of English football”. And he has maintained his stance despite the Department for Culture, Media and Sport stating it was “surprised and disappointed… backroom deals (are) being cooked up that would create a closed shop at the very top of the game.”
Parry, nevertheless, believes the plans offer the best chance of securing the future of clubs outside the top flight.
“It is two of our great clubs showing leadership when it is needed, exercising great responsibility, and from the EFL point of view it is making our clubs sustainable and bridging the gap between the top of the Championship and and the bottom of the Premier League,” he said.
“The cherry on the icing on the cake is the prospect of a £250-million rescue fund immediately, which does of course help, but the principal part of the story is the biggest reset since the formation of the Premier League which, all being well, will set up the pyramid for the next 25 years.
“The proposal is designed for the greater good of English football.”
So now we have heard it all.