The government have called for Premier League clubs to help out the EFL clubs. This is because they are facing financial struggles due to COVID-19 and there are concerns that several could fold by the end of October because of this.
This has led a proposal to be put forward by some of the biggest clubs in England, this is “Project Big Picture”. If it goes through it will see the biggest changes to football in Britain over the last few decades. The controversial project has been in the works for more than three years.
It was originally drawn up by Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group and it was backed by the Glazers who own Manchester United. In fact, the Glazers wanted it in motion for the 2022/23 season. Due to the financial implications because of coronavirus, it has been sped up and could even be happening for the 2021/22 season.
If passed, Project Big Picture will provide huge changes which include changing the voting structure of the Premier League whilst also changing the funding models for the English Football Leagues (EFL) and Football Association (FA). However, because of these changes there have obviously been a lot of resistance to it but what exactly would the changes be?
The Premier League would give the EFL £250 million to compensate for the loss in matchday revenue. On paper, this seems good, but it is a loan and to pay it back, the Premier League will take money out of future TV revenue. The Premier League would also give £100 million to the FA for their loss of money through COVID and for the women’s game and grass roots football.
Along with this, 8.5% of the annual Premier League revenue will go to operating costs and good causes including the FA. A further 25% would go directly to the EFL clubs.
The proposal would also see a cap on away ticket prices at £20, a minimum of 8% of the capacity being for away fans, away travel being subsidised and a return to safe standing for fans.
To go with these financial changes, the aforementioned voting would drastically change.
This would start with the league going from 20 sides to just 18. This would be done by relegating four teams and promoting just two in the first season. After this, the method for relegation would change slightly.
The bottom two (17th and 18th) would automatically be relegated and the top two in the championship would be promoted, this stays the same. However, instead of 3rd to 6th in the Championship going into the playoffs, it would see 3rd to 5th and 16th in the Premier League go into the playoffs. This means two or three sides would be relegated rather than the constant three.
The League Cup and Community Shield would also discontinue. Furthermore, the EFL would go from 92 clubs to 90. However, these aren’t the most controversial changes.
The rule of one club has one vote system would be scrapped. This would be replaced by a new system which would see special status given to the nine longest serving clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United. The shareholders of these clubs would be given extra power.
At current, 14 of the 20 Premier League clubs is the majority and that is what is required when voting for a change of rules. If Project Big Picture goes ahead, only six of the nine is needed for the majority. This would give the ‘big six’ power over anything ranging from contracts to CEOs and most crucially, any potential new owners.
Other changes would include wage caps, new loan rules, new TV distribution and even a Premier League mini tournament in the summer.
One argument for these changes is the EFL’s desperate need for money. This has led Rick Parry, the EFL chairman, to give his support to the project. Along with Parry, a number of chairmen of EFL clubs have supported it as they believe it is a necessary step.
Others have supported it as it scraps the League Cup and Community Shield (as well as reduce the 38-game season to 34). This will clear up space in the English football calendar. Many would like to see this especially as there is talk of expanding the Champions League for the 2024/25 season and this would allow the English clubs to compete more fairly.
Despite some backing, there has been a lot of resistance towards it. People believe this is nothing more than the top clubs looking for more power and they’re trying to add some “charity” for the EFL clubs in order to get it passed.
The Premier League itself has opposed it. They released a statement in which they said it could have a “damaging impact on the whole game” and they went on to say they’re “disappointed” in Rick Parry for supporting it.
Not only are the Premier League and a number of its clubs against it but the government are to. The government also believe it is just a power grab by the big sides.
According to the Times, the FA will also say no to it. The FA are also willing to use their “golden share” gifted to them by the Premier League upon its inception in 1992 to vote it down.