Project Big Picture – what does it mean
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FSA don’t pull any punches
Earlier today it was reported that clubs at the top of the Premier League had been planning in secret to pursue a wide-ranging restructure of the English footballing pyramid named “Project Big Picture”.
Big Picture or bigger problems?
Two of the big hitters in the Premier League are pulling together to get behind ‘Project Big Picture’. Despite their bitter rivalry on the pitch, the idea is making huge waves in English football with several supporting it but a host of other leading voices expressing major concerns.
Project Big Picture: What are the main proposals
- Premier League to be cut from 20 to 18 clubs – Championship, League One and League Two to each have 24 teams
- The bottom two teams in the Premier League relegated automatically, 16th-placed team joining the Championship play-offs
- The EFL Cup and Community Shield to be scrapped indefinitely
- Parachute payments to end with a £250m rescue fund made immediately available to the EFL – FA to be paid £100m to make up for lost revenue
- Nine clubs, including traditional ‘big six’, to have ‘special voting rights’ on certain issues, including broadcasting rights
- Fan charter that would include £20 away ticket price cap, subsidised away travel, focus on return to safe standing and minimum eight per cent capacity for away allocation
- Six per cent of Premier League gross revenues to go towards stadium improvements across top four divisions, calculated at £100 per seat
- New rules for distribution of Premier League income
- Changes to the loan system and a later league start date in August
In support of the proposal
EFL chairman Rick Parry on talkSPORT: “It’s a broken system, it was broken before COVID.
“From our perspective, what big picture does is address every single one of those equalities.
“The Premier League could have come up with a plan at any time. The fact two of our leading clubs have come up with a plan, I really don’t think it’s to be criticised and should be applauded.
“A lot of the reaction has been hysterical. People have seen it as a power grab but I don’t see it that way.
“I look at the benefits for us and if it’s taken two of our leading clubs to come up with the plan, let’s congratulate them and hopefully make something radical happen, because we need radical solutions.”
“We should look at what benefits the pyramid as a whole.”
Against the proposal
The Premier League have said: “English football is the world’s most watched, and has a vibrant, dynamic and competitive league structure that drives interest around the globe.
“To maintain this position, it is important that we all work together. Both the Premier League and the FA support a wide-ranging discussion on the future of the game, including its competition structures, calendar and overall financing particularly in light of the effects of Covid-19.
“Football has many stakeholders, therefore this work should be carried out through the proper channels enabling all clubs and stakeholders the opportunity to contribute.”
The government have also weighed in with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport condemning what it called a ‘backroom deal’.
“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,” a DCMS spokesperson said.
“Sustainability, integrity and fair competition are absolutely paramount and anything that may undermine them is deeply troubling. Fans must be front of all our minds, and this shows why our fan led review of football governance will be so critical.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden added: “Now is not the right time.
“The challenge facing football is ensuring particularly the EFL has the resources to enable its clubs to survive. This deal does not command support throughout the Premier League at all.”
Former Premier League striker Jonathan Walters took to social media to explain and criticise what he believes the implications the proposal will be, saying: “The Premier League big guns have shown their hand this weekend.
“Two clubs run the PL behind the scenes and this proposal will give others a seat at that table.
“There is a long list of demands that the PL teams have always wanted and to help the EFL they will be asking for them all! …
“These will include: B teams in the EFL, Less PL fixtures which will lead to more Champions League fixtures, International PL matches will be on the table, They will throw in things to get fans on board e.g capped ticket prices…but this should already happen…
“This will permanently change football in this country and it will only benefit the top of the pyramid. It will make it impossible for anyone to get anywhere near them, killing off any future competition and the hopes of all fans at any other club apart from the elite…
“The timing of this couldn’t be more perfect as it deflects the headlines away from the horrendous £15 pay per view announced last week.”
There has been report this would lead to a breakaway League, the BBC published:
A breakaway league was suggested “as a threat” by the organisers of Project Big Picture, says Football Association chairman Greg Clarke.
Project Big Picture wants to reduce the Premier League from 20 to 18 clubs and scrap the Carabao Cup.
The EFL would also get 25% of all future TV deals, plus £250m.
Fan groups of the ‘big six’ teams – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – have criticised the plans.
Some EFL clubs said support for the plans was “almost unanimous” among their member clubs – although that was later disputed.
FA chairman Clarke said he was involved in initial discussions with the backers of Project Big Picture but then withdrew.
“Change must benefit clubs, fans and players; not just selective balance sheets,” said Clarke.
“With the knowledge of senior board members and our CEO, I participated in the early stages of discussions.
“However, when the principal aim of these discussions became the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few clubs with a breakaway league mooted as a threat, I discontinued my involvement and counselled a more consensus-based approach involving all Premier League clubs.
“Our game needs to continually seek to improve, but benefits need to be shared.”
EFL chairman Rick Parry said it was “in the best interests” of football in this country and praised both clubs for coming up with the plan.
“This is two of our great clubs showing leadership and exercising responsibility,” said Parry. “The message from Liverpool and Manchester United is that they do genuinely care about the pyramid.”
However, the Premier League thought the plan “could have a damaging impact on the whole game” and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it was “surprised and disappointed” by “backroom deals being cooked up”.
A West Ham insider told BBC Sport they were “very much against” it and a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the plans would “undermine the trust in football’s governance”.
Clarke said discussions should continue, adding: “We, the FA board and council, have to ensure any changes would be to the long-term benefit of the whole of football.
“We have substantial controls to help ensure that the best interests of the game are served by any new proposals.
“In these difficult times unity, transparency and common purpose must override the interests of the few.
“Let’s continue to work together to determine what is best for English football, with full dialogue between all key stakeholders.”
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