FA chairman condemns Project Big Picture as grab for power and wealth | Football

The Football Association chairman, Greg Clarke, has emphatically criticised the Project Big Picture proposals developed by Liverpool, Manchester United and the EFL chairman, Rick Parry, saying their aim is a move for more wealth and power by the top clubs.

In a letter to the FA council, which the FA published on its website, Clarke said he had been involved in early stages of the discussions but had pulled out because he strongly disapproved of the clubs’ moves to assert control. The proposals, leaked on Sunday, seek to concentrate Premier League voting rights in the hands of only nine clubs – the “big six” and three other “long‑term shareholder” members, West Ham, Southampton and Everton – but six of those nine clubs would carry a vote.

The plan envisages the Premier League and EFL doing joint TV deals and the EFL receiving 25% of the revenue, a prospect never offered by the Premier League for 25 years, but has drawn widespread criticism because of the proposals for voting control.

Clarke told the council he had been involved in the talks “with the knowledge of senior board members and [the FA chief executive]” initially.

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“However, in late spring, 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 of course discontinued my involvement and counselled a more consensus‑based approach involving all Premier League clubs and its chair and CEO. Our game needs to continually seek to improve but benefits need to be shared.”

It has been reported Parry suggested to Liverpool and United that if the biggest clubs could not secure agreement within the Premier League, in which rule changes require 14 of the 20 clubs to vote in favour, they could unite with the Championship. He declined to respond to a question about that in a press conference on Sunday.

Clarke said in his letter that the FA has to “ensure that any changes would be to the long-term benefit of the whole of football”, and indicated that the governing body would use its special “golden” share in the Premier League to block the proposed changes to the voting rights in the constitution.

Referring to the crisis caused by Covid-19 that has led Parry to say the EFL clubs have a £250m shortfall, Clarke wrote: “We are fully aware that there are huge financial pressures throughout the game and collectively we need to work hard so that our clubs survive the pandemic. However, we must separate this need from discussions about the potential long-term structure of our wonderful game.

“Of course, if we can agree changes that are beneficial in the long term and have an immediate positive impact, we will consider that. Equally, we cannot be forced into short‑term decisions that would be damaging in the long term.”

Liverpool, United and the EFL did not respond publicly to Clarke’s letter.


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