Plans for the radical reform of English football, which would include sharing Premier League TV revenue with the EFL but also a concentration of power amongst the “big six” clubs, are being actively considered at the top of the game.
Known as Project Big Picture, the plans have been devised by the owners of Liverpool and Manchester United but embraced by the EFL. If agreed by the Premier League as a whole, the reforms would stave off the immediate financial crisis that threatens to swallow the game. They would also bring to an abrupt end to structures that have been in place for more than 25 years.
According to details first reported in the Daily Telegraph, Project Big Picture would involve the Premier League agreeing to give 25% of its future TV deals to the EFL and bringing an end to parachute payments. It would also involve the top flight shrinking from 20 clubs to 18 and Championship playoffs including the 16th-placed Premier League side, who would compete to stay up against three promotion hopefuls from the second tier.
In return, however, the current voting structure of the Premier League would be abandoned. Instead of one club, one vote, and a majority of 14 being required to pass any change in rules, a new system would give extra power to clubs with “long-term shareholder status”, the nine longest-serving teams in the league.
That group comprises the big six, plus Everton, Southampton and West Ham United. Under the plans it would require only six “long-term shareholder” votes to approve any changes in Premier League rules, a shift that could effectively render the other nine clubs in the top flight powerless.
Other proposed changes are reported to include the scrapping of the League Cup and Community Shield, and the launch of a new “Premier League summer tournament”.
Fourteen Premier League clubs would have to vote in favour of any proposals if they were to be implemented but in a highly critical statement, the Premier League said any discussions should be conducted through the ‘proper channels’.
“We have seen media reports today regarding a plan to restructure football in this country,” the Premier League said in statement. “Football has many stakeholders, therefore this work should be carried out through the proper channels enabling all clubs and stakeholders the opportunity to contribute.
“In the Premier League’s view, a number of the individual proposals in the plan published today could have a damaging impact on the whole game and we are disappointed to see that Rick Parry, chair of the EFL, has given his on-the-record support.
“The Premier League has been working in good faith with its clubs and the EFL to seek a resolution to the requirement for Covid-19 rescue funding. This work will continue.”