Author: Edward Pitt
The EFL have recently revealed huge news in relation to the landscape of English Football, both in the short and long term. ‘Project Big Picture’ is an idea discussed between the EFL and some of the elite members of the Premier League. Primarily, it is supposed that Manchester United and Liverpool are really pushing for the new policies to be approved.
The project would involve effectively a gift of £250 million from some financed by a loan taken out by the Premier League to the EFL to assist struggling clubs in the lower tiers of English football who have been hit hard by the pandemic and the subsequent loss of match-day revenue. In addition, there would be a £100 million payment to the FA to cover its COVID-related losses and help the FA in investing in the non-league game, women’s football and grassroots football. The FA would also receive an annual 8% of Premier League revenue, while a whopping 25% (up from 4%) would go to EFL clubs.
However, in return for the huge loss of revenue, 9 Premier League clubs would be granted a unique status in the league. These are the traditional Big 6 of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham, along with 3 more clubs with the longest Premier League status (West Ham, Everton and Southampton). These 9 clubs would receive an immense power in future rule changes; the concept of one-club one-vote would be abolished and the decision would be left to these 9 clubs, from which only 6 would need to agree to get policies changed. One of the most absurd powers that this would bring is the ability for these 9 clubs to veto new potential owners for other clubs. Many fans have said that it is a power play to ensure these elite clubs’ longstanding place at the top of the league.
There are also many proposed changes to the structure of the league itself. The Premier League would go from 20 clubs to 18. The league would start later in August to give a greater scope for pre-season friendlies. For the Championship, League One and League two would all have 24 teams. Every season, two sides would automatically be relegated from the Premier League, being replaced by the top two teams in the Championship. Meanwhile, the 16th placed team in the Premier League would compete in a play-off tournament with the 3rd, 4th and 5th placed teams in the Championship to decide who would have Premier League status in the following season. There would also be an adjustment to the way Premier League prize money is handed out; instead of based on performance in a single year, it will be calculated based on performance over a 3-year period.
With the new rule changes, clubs would also be saying goodbye to the League Cup and Community Shield; the latter of which Arsenal won against champions Liverpool in August. However, there are some universally good policies as well in this divisive Project. A new rule would cap away tickets at £20, help subsidise away travel and increase the minimum away ticket allocation to 8%.
EFL Chairman, Rick Parry, has voiced his backing for the project in an official statement. However, other large bodies have not taken to the plans so kindly. The Premier League released a statement voicing their unease and that they were “disappointed” in the statement given by Parry. The UK Government has even spoken out against the proposals. A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “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”.
The project has clearly divided opinion in a major way, but what do you think of it as an Arsenal fan?