Following the radical reform put forward by Liverpool and Manchester United earlier this week, an alternative plan; “Saving the beautiful game” has been revealed.
Spearheaded by former chairman of the FA, David Bernstein, the plan is backed by seven other influential figures: Gary Neville, Denise Lewis, David Davies, Greg Scott, Andy Burnham, Helen Grant, and Lord Mervyn King.
The key points of the manifesto aim to combat the uneven distribution of wealth between the Premier League and the lower three leagues.
It suggests an independent governing body outside of football to regulate finances, and a new licensing system.
This comes after the EFL dramatically refused the rescue package as it was not inclusive of all 72 clubs, with the Championship being exempt. With shareholders agreeing that £50m was insufficient to save all the clubs during these unprecedented times.
The controversial proposal Project Big Picture initially put forward by Liverpool and Manchester United has been unanimously rejected by all 20 clubs.
In what was arguably the biggest proposed reform since the inception of the Premier League 28 years ago, current champions Liverpool and record title winners Manchester United introduced “Project Big Picture” earlier this week.
Two of the biggest clubs in England, put forward ideas that would restructure the game as we know it:
- Premier League would be reduced from 20 to 18 clubs
- A “special status” would be granted to the nine clubs with the longest time in the Premier League
- Six of the nine “special status” clubs would need to vote in favour for there to be change
- No Community Shield or League Cup moving forward
- No longer the traditional championship play offs format, the team in 16th place would replace the sixth-place championship team in the mini tournament
- £250m to be made available to the English Football League and £100m for the Football Association, with 25% of future Premier League revenue shared
On the surface, this looks like a massive help for the lower leagues. The redistribution of wealth is tempting for League one and two clubs, who have suffered major financial damage due to the lack of income they would usually receive from match day revenue.
With several believing they would not survive the current crisis.
However, looking at the small print and most importantly the voting reform, it paints a different picture. Currently, each premier league club votes and counts as one. Under the new proposal, it would only take six votes to make structural changes, thus alienating the other 12 clubs.
Furthermore, six of the nine clubs are virtually guaranteed to stay in the Premier League each season whereas West Ham, Everton and Southampton often find themselves in a relegation battle.
When “Project Big Picture” was first brought to public attention, several premier league managers including lower league managers were strictly opposed to this proposition, even those who could potentially benefit from it.
It seemed like a power play from Liverpool and Manchester United, who would also be able to sell some of their individual matches on a streaming service outside the Premier League TV deal.
This would benefit these two clubs more than any others as they have a larger international reach. The narrative that the “big clubs” are run more like businesses by their billionaire owners than football clubs was enhanced with these demands.
As all 20 clubs took to vote, there was a unanimous decision to reject it. What has come from the meeting is that financial help will still be given to the English Football League.
Up to £77.2m will be given to the lower leagues to ensure they do not go out of business, with upfront payments of £27.2m already paid.
Whilst this emergency care package is a short-term solution, it is unsustainable if seats stay empty for the foreseeable future.
Words: Anuj Datta | Subbing: Monika Groening
Featured Image: Unsplash, Nathan Rogers
Article Image: Unsplash, Jason Charters