Project Big Picture – Proposal to shake things up in English football

Football headlines in England over the past few days have been about the extraordinary proposal put forward by Liverpool and Manchester United owners to not only shake-up the Premier league, but different tiers in English football. Let’s try to understand the proposal being put forward and how it impacts the clubs, fans and football in England.

What is Project Big Picture

Most proposals related to Premier League such as VAR are voted by all 20 clubs in order to have it approved, with the majority count being 14. But Project Big Picture plans to scrap that completely and give the power to top clubs and ones with the longest-running stay in Premier League. The plan is to restructure the football leagues, scrap cup competitions and provide financial boost to EFL clubs due to the ongoing pandemic situation.

The proposed changes are

  • Premier League to consist of 18 clubs, but Championship, League One and League will continue to have 24 clubs
  • 9 long term shareholders to be given power and voting rights on all matters related to Premier League
  • £350 million fund to be made readily available to EFL and FA due to the financial loses
  • League Cup and Community Shield to be scrapped
  • 25% of Premier League revenue to be distributed to EFL instead of Parachute payments
  • Promotion play-offs involving 16th placed team in Premier League and 3rd, 4th and 5th placed teams in Championship
  • Align financial fair play rules with UEFA
  • Fund to set up a new and independent Women’s league
  • Regular season to start later with extended pre-season friendlies

Who are the 9 clubs

It is comprised of the top 6 – Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, and Everton, West Ham and Southampton.

Does that mean Everton, West Ham and Southampton would be in a better position than the clubs not included? Not really! Although they would have voting rights the plan requires only 6 of the voting clubs to push through a decision. This means a decision favourable for the Big Six will always get approved irrespective of the opinion of other three clubs.

Its quite understandable most of the other clubs would be against this, especially the ones who have a history of relegation battles to remain in the top flight.

Winners and losers

It is pretty evident from the plans on who would be the winners, the top clubs or the Big Six. They could wrestle away all the power from other teams and regulate changes in a way they feel is right. Although some might feel it would make Premier League more competitive, it comes at a heavy cost of what future might hold for other clubs.

In regards to losers, it is everyone outside the Big Six. The fact none of them could have a say in any decisions taken by the Big Six would plant serious doubts in the minds of owners from a financial and football perspective. The only chance of winning a trophy for most of the clubs in Championship, League One and League Two has been the EFL cup. By scrapping the competition it not only denies an opportunity for the low league clubs to compete against top flight clubs, but also the possibility of any financial benefits form the ties.

What does it mean for the football fans

Supporters of the Big Six might be excited by the prospect of competitive football and the fact there is less chance of a lower ranked team taking their spot or causing a cupset. The fans of other clubs will definitely feel an opportunity lost to compete against the big teams and have a shot at the League cup. The capping of away tickets and subsidised travel might look good, but in the longer run it could result in getting further away from the top clubs as the possibility of more changes alway remain.

What unfolded in the meeting

  • The Premier League teams met on Wednesday and unanimously rejected the proposal put forward by Manchester United and Liverpool owners.
  • Premier League shareholders agreed to work together on a strategic plan to deliver a competitive and sustainable football model.
  • League One and League Two clubs would receive a rescue package due to the financial impact of COVID-19.
  • The package will consist of grants and interest-free loans totalling to £50 million on top of £27.2 million solidarity payments
  • Discussions to continue with EFL regarding the financial needs for Championship clubs

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