Project Big Picture: “Breakaway League” threatened, says Football Association president

Football Association president Greg Clarke has withdrawn from discussions over Project Big Picture

A separatist league has been suggested “as a threat” by the organizers of Project Big Picture, said Football Association president Greg Clarke.

Project Big Picture wants to reduce the Premier League from 20 to 18 clubs and do away with the Carabao Cup.

The EFL would also get 25% of all future TV deals, plus £ 250million.

Fan groups from the “big six” teams – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – have criticized the plans.

Some EFL clubs have said support for the plans was “almost unanimous” among their member clubs – although this was later disputed.

FA President Clarke said he was involved in the initial discussions with Project Big Picture’s backers, but later withdrew.

“The change must benefit clubs, supporters and players; not just selective reviews, ”Clarke said.

“With the knowledge of the senior board members and our CEO, I participated in the early stages of the discussions.

“However, when the main focus of these discussions became the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few clubs with a dissident league being raised as a threat, I ended my involvement and advised a more consensual approach. involving all Premier League clubs.

“Our game must continually seek to improve, but the benefits must be shared. “

Liverpool v Manchester United
The plan originally came from the owners of Liverpool and Manchester United

The proposals, led by Liverpool and Manchester United, went public earlier this week and have divided opinions.

EFL President Rick Parry said it was “in the best interest” of football in that country and praised both clubs for coming up with the plan.

“These are two of our great clubs showing leadership and exercising responsibility,” said Parry. “The message from Liverpool and Manchester United is that they really care about the pyramid.”

However, the Premier League believed the plan “could have a damaging impact on the whole game” and the Culture, Media and Sports Ministry said it was “surprised and disappointed” by “behind-the-scenes deals in under development “.

A West Ham insider told BBC Sport they were “strongly against it” and a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the plans “would undermine confidence in the governance of football”.

Clarke said discussions should continue, adding: “We, the board and the board of the FA, have to make sure that any changes will benefit all of football in the long run.

“We have substantial controls to help ensure that the best interests of the game are served by any new proposition.

“In these difficult times, unity, transparency and a common goal must prevail over 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.”

The proposals of the “Project Big Picture”

  • The Premier League has grown from 20 to 18 clubs, with the Championship, League One and League Two each retaining 24 teams.
  • The last two Premier League teams have been relegated automatically, with the 16th-ranked team joining the league play-offs.
  • Removed League Cup and Community Shield.
  • Parachute payments removed.
  • A £ 250million bailout fund made immediately available to the EFL and 25% of all future TV deals.
  • £ 100million paid to the FA to make up for lost revenue.
  • Nine clubs have been given “special voting rights” on certain issues, based on their extended Premier League stints.

“We do not support the proposals”

On Tuesday, a joint statement from the fan groups of the ‘Big Six’ squads said: “The supporters we represent are fortunate to support the clubs which regularly get the biggest financial income in the Premier League. But we all understand that football doesn’t work in a vacuum, it’s a family.

“It takes a fair share of resources to ensure the Premier League is competitive to watch and the lower leagues thrive as part of our national game.

“While the six clubs we support are widely regarded as the instigators of Project Big Picture, it is important that we state very clearly that we do not support the proposals in their current form.

“We are totally opposed to the concentration of power in the hands of six billionaire owners and the abandonment of a club, a voice and the collective ethics of the Premier League. This part of the proposal should be dropped immediately if other elements need to be seriously considered.

“We welcome the government’s reiteration of its plan for a fan-led review of football governance. This needs to happen urgently and fan groups need to be consulted. “

“Almost unanimous support for the EFL”

Personalities from EFL clubs in the Championship, Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 said there was almost unanimous support for the proposals in individual league meetings on Tuesday.

Jez Moxey, general manager of League One Burton Albion and a member of the EFL board, said: “I would say in League One, [support is] unanimous.”

Paul Scally, president of League One’s Gillingham, said: “I don’t think anyone has spoken badly about it. There were some aspects that raised concerns, but the premise, as I have always believed, has been very solid. I think that it is welcome.

“There is obviously more talk to be had, but the clubs are not looking to sell their souls for £ 250million, it is not about taking the money, whatever the cost.

“This is about the future sustainability of the English Football League and the football pyramid, of which the Premier League plays such a big role. We very much hope that this can lead to a positive conclusion.”

Nigel Travis, Chairman of League Two’s Leyton Orient, said: “I would say in League Two it was probably 23 out of 24 clubs. [in favour]. One club has raised a number of interesting questions. “

He added: “Apart from a few clubs in the league, we are totally behind this. It is about making football better and sustainable for all of us. Think about the revenue it brings to the government, think about what it made for our communities. “

Peter Ridsdale, owner’s representative on the Preston North End Championship side, said: “At the Championship meeting today, although there was no vote, there was no dissenting voice. during the conference call.

“Some questions have been raised, and I think rightly so, because there has been a leak, and because we have only seen certain elements of the discussions, there will be points that individual clubs would like to address. clarification or the opportunity to discuss, but in terms of the main principles of it, there was no dissenting voice at the championship meeting today. “

However, claims of almost unanimous support for the proposals were later challenged by other clubs.

Representatives from Accrington Stanley, Lincoln City and AFC Wimbledon said the comments did not accurately reflect the level of support for Project Big Picture.

About Betty J. Snyder

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