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Football Thread 2020/2021

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17 minutes ago, Gotters said:

I assumed reading it that they were aiming for the moon in terms of what a 'big club' would want so they can jettison loads of it and show how flexible they've been.


You never start these things with a list of demands that are non-negotiable


In setting out the 9 founder members you don't have to convince many more with ideas of grandeur who'd like to swap over to go along, and in the smaller leagues you're offering a life jacket to people who are drowning, they aren't going to question the colour or fabric too much.


Some of it is needed, smaller PL, distribution of wealth to lower leagues, scrapping one of the domestic cups and the charity shield and mechanisms to stop most of the Championship bankrupting themselves in trying to get at least one season in the PL to then pick up parachute payments.

For sure, but in all likelihood it’ll be the measures aiming to protect EFL clubs that get cast aside first.


All those elements are just a Trojan horse to  help push through the more self-serving ones.


The only reason they want the Community Shield scrapped is to allow longer, lucrative pre-season tours of Asia and the US.

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fair points about losing the money sharing stuff first !


is anybody really still attached to the charity shield, it feels like a total relic from another age that serves no purpose at all, even more so this year in an empty stadium.


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5 minutes ago, Gotters said:

fair points about losing the money sharing stuff first !


is anybody really still attached to the charity shield, it feels like a total relic from another age that serves no purpose at all, even more so this year in an empty stadium.


I’m surprised there hasn’t been a switch to a Pro Bowl style game with players voted for by fans. Say surprised not because I want it, but it would be an easy way for the Premier League to make money off the voting.

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Just now, glb said:

I’m surprised there hasn’t been a switch to a Pro Bowl style game with players voted for by fans. Say surprised not because I want it, but it would be an easy way for the Premier League to make money off the voting.


imagine that is an insurance liability nightmare too, the FAs cover international duty but a meaningless friendly like that ahead or at the end of a season would be a nightmare to arrange. 

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1 hour ago, Ork1927 said:

5 Ireland players withdraw from squad this morning due to Covid (1 infected/4 close contacts).


I reckon two weeks time the domestic league games are going to be a right mess

Naby Keita has apparently tested positive while away with Guinea.


Has the Premier League even confirmed the contingency plans should there be another suspension?

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Who could have foreseen this happening with a ludicrous round of international fixtures taking place globally at not just senior but U21 levels too


It's utterly fucking insane and FIFA/UEFA need to pull their heads out their arses for allowing it to go ahead - only utter chaos in the domestic leagues of the top Euro leagues will make anything even be considered.

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1 minute ago, Gotters said:


imagine that is an insurance liability nightmare too, the FAs cover international duty but a meaningless friendly like that ahead or at the end of a season would be a nightmare to arrange. 

Yeah, most clubs would just laugh down the phone at the suggestion players were being asked to participate, and then pretend they were about to lose reception by driving through a tunnel.


Agree the Shield game itself is a relic though. Not sure how I feel about the League Cup. When even lower league clubs are making wholesale changes for matches, it’s probably time to question the tournament’s validity. Think the winners will soon be granted entry to the Europa Conference once that starts, but that sounds more like a punishment than an incentive.

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1 hour ago, Gotters said:

Some of it is needed, smaller PL, distribution of wealth to lower leagues, scrapping one of the domestic cups and the charity shield and mechanisms to stop most of the Championship bankrupting themselves in trying to get at least one season in the PL to then pick up parachute payments.


Yeah, in many ways parachute payments actually achieved the exact opposite of their supposed aim.

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Worth reiterating that when it comes to the EFL, it is literally a separate organisation from the PL and any scraps they get are completely in the gift of the top table.


The only reason we don’t have a European Super League is that the big clubs haven’t figured out how to sell dumping the other 14 clubs to the public yet.

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Oh, and by reducing parachute payments to a more equitable share, it makes it harder for a club to come up and challenge them. (As we’ve seen Fulham, WBA, Burnley figure out how to turn the yo-yo club tag to their advantage.)


And smaller league = bigger slice of the pie.

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3 hours ago, Gotters said:

Wow - Liverpool & Utd are apparently driving a radical shake up of the PL and below if this is in the Telegraph is to be believed, too much detail to be a complete fabrication


behind paywall I believe so article in spoilers https://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2020/10/11/world-exclusive-man-utd-liverpool-driving-project-big-picture/


  Reveal hidden contents

Manchester United and Liverpool are the driving force behind the biggest changes to English football in a generation and an extraordinary overhaul of the Premier League, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

The two clubs have worked together on a radical set of proposals – called “Project Big Picture” - that will reshape the finances of the game. The Premier League, the most lucrative sports league in the world, would see a reduction to 18 teams, and controlling power in the hands of the biggest clubs.

In return for tearing up many of the rules that have governed the game since the Premier League’s inception in 1992 there will be £250 million rescue package to the Football League to see them through the Covid crisis.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal the details of the working document “Revitalisation” authored by Liverpool’s American ownership Fenway Sports Group with support from United. It anticipates the backing of the other members of the so-called big six, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.


In a remarkable set of proposals, which will send shockwaves through the game, 25 per cent of the Premier League’s annual revenue will go to the EFL clubs with £250 million paid up front to see them through the current crisis. There would also be a gift of £100 million to sustain the Football Association.

However, there would be an abolition of the one-club, one-vote principle that has sustained the Premier League since its inception as well as the abolition of the threshold of 14 votes to pass any decision or regulation change.

Under the new proposals, the Community Shield would be abolished CREDIT: Shutterstock

Under the new proposals, the League Cup and the Community Shield would be abolished. There have been additional discussions that the League Cup would survive but without the participation of the clubs in Europe.

There would be two automatic promotion places for Championship clubs, but the third, fourth and fifth placed clubs would be in a play-off tournament with the 16th placed Premier League club.

The nine clubs who have been in the Premier League for the longest - which includes the big six - would dictate its running in every aspect and would be free to play more games in the expanded Champions League that is anticipated from the 2024-2025 season onwards.

As well as the Premier League dropping from 20 clubs to 18, there would be 24 in each of the Championship, League One and League Two making a total of 90.

The plan is supported by the EFL chairman Rick Parry who has held talks with Liverpool’s principal owner, the American investor John W Henry, and shareholder and director Mike Gordon. In addition, Parry has spoken to the Glazer family, who own United.

The plan is supported by the EFL chairman Rick Parry  CREDIT: AP

The talks began in 2017 but have been accelerated since the coronavirus pandemic has thrust football into the grip of crisis with no fans in stadiums until March at the earliest. Liverpool and United are prepared for a fierce debate over their proposals but they want them implemented as soon as possible.

The Revitalisation document calls for immediate action to cut dramatically what it calls the “revenue chasm” in earnings from television contracts between the Premier League and the EFL. In order to discourage Championship clubs from gambling recklessly on promotion, the parachute payments system would be abolished in favour of the 25 per cent share of Premier League revenue being shared more equitably among EFL clubs.

Under proposals for the new model of distribution of television revenue in the Premier League, Fenway, the driving force behind the document, insist there would be no greater share for the top six. Their stated aim is to eliminate the huge gap in earnings between Premier League and EFL clubs while in return having a greater control of the decisions made by the Premier League.

The document says: “A reset of the economics and governance of the English football pyramid is long overdue”.

The proposals also rewrite the Premier League’s 20-club democracy in favour of placing huge power in the hands of the nine clubs with the longest continual stay in the division. As things stand that is the big six, as well as Everton, Southampton and West Ham. Those nine clubs afforded “long-term shareholder status” would have unprecedented power, with the votes of just six of them required to make sweeping changes. These clubs would even be able to veto a new owner taking over a rival club.

The power would move into the hands of the nine clubs with the longest continual stay in the division - which includes West HamCREDIT: Getty Images

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, Parry said that he had the support of many of his 72 members, many currently facing financial ruin, to go ahead with the plan. He said: “What do we do? Leave it exactly as it is and allow the smaller clubs to wither? Or do we do something about it? And you can’t do something about it without something changing. And the view of our clubs is if the [big] six get some benefits but the 72 also do, we are up for it.”

He accepted there would be opposition from the Premier League clubs outside the big six who would see it as detrimental to their financial prospects with less money and two fewer places in the top flight.

“It is definitely going to be challenging and it is an enormous change so that won’t be without some pain,” Parry said: “Do I genuinely think it’s for the greater good of the game as a whole? Absolutely. And if the [big] six are deriving some benefit then why shouldn’t they. Why wouldn’t they put their names to this otherwise?”

The proposals include:

£250 million immediately to the EFL to compensate its clubs for lost matchday revenue, deducted from future television revenue earnings and financed by a loan taken out by the Premier League

Special status for the nine longest serving clubs – and the vote of only six of those “long-term shareholders” required to make major changes, including amending rules and regulations, agreeing contracts, removal of the chief executive, and a wide-ranging veto including on club ownership

Premier League to go to 18 clubs from 20

£100 million one-off gift to the FA to cover its coronavirus losses, the non-league game, the women’s game, the grassroots

8.5 per cent of annual net Premier League revenue to go on operating costs and “good causes” including the FA

From the remainder, 25 per cent of all combined Premier League and Football League revenues to go to the EFL clubs

Six per cent of Premier League gross revenues to pay for stadium improvements across the top four divisions, calculated at £100 per seat

New rules for the distribution of Premier League television income, overseas and domestic, including proposals that base one portion on performance over three years in the league

The abolition of the League Cup and the Community Shield

24 clubs each in the Championship, League One and League Two reducing the professional game overall from 92 clubs to 90

A women's professional league independent of the Premier League or the FA

Two sides automatically relegated from the Premier League every season and the top two Championship teams promoted. The 16th place Premier League club in a play-off tournament with the Championship’s third, fourth and fifth placed teams.

Financial fair play regulations in line with Uefa, and full access for Premier League executive to club accounts

A fan charter including capping of away tickets at £20, away travel subsidised, a focus on a return to safe standing, a minimum away allocation of eight per cent capacity

Later Premier League start in August to give greater scope for pre-season friendlies, and requirement for all clubs to compete once every five years in a summer Premier League tournament

Huge changes to loan system allowing clubs to have 15 players out on loan domestically at any one time and up to four at a single club in England


Yeah, as a football fan first, but a Liverpool fan second, I'm really disappointed to read this. No surprise that a Glazer is involved too. Is this American-thinking coming into play?

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I actually think that binning the League Cup is a good thing, because right now it's pointless for the Premier League teams when the carrot is that european competition that is below the Europa League, and the purpose of filling in mid-week floodlit evening games has waaaaaaaaaaay passed.  You could just reduce it to the Football League teams but then it becomes one of the existing competitions then, and even less desirable.  Might as well get rid of it.


Charity Shield - it's the English "Super Cup", and I kinda like it, but you know if it goes it goes.


I don't really like this proposal to have 16th place play playoffs against 3rd - 5th in the Championship.


Reducing teams in the Premier League to 18 would mean 34 gameweeks, which may solve the winter break issue.  But what about the Football League divisions, shouldn't they be reduced themselves cos they're ridiculously big now (and in fact wasn't there a recent proposal to do exactly this?).

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There are some good ideas in the proposals but the power grab at the centre is gross.



The bit about safe standing stood out to me considering Liverpool seem to be driving the proposals. I'm not sure how that'd be implemented at Anfield without significant work around the stadium. 

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That was a pretty poor Ireland game. The opening ten minutes pretty much said the lot - a load of possession but not much going forward, Wales seemingly happy to stop Ireland progressing forward but offering not much in return. There needs to be a bit more ambition - possession is good and play has been preferable to the backs-to-the-wall approach of recent years, but it took too long, both here and on Thursday, for the confidence to play into the opposition's third to arrive. 


Shane Long really ought to have scored with his free header, Horgan had a half chance, but that's really the extent of it today. Wales's best chance was Harry Wilson's from the edge of the area but it was pretty easy for Randolph to deal with.


It certainly didn't help losing five of the squad to Covid hours before kickoff, being without pretty much their first and second choice front three - only a fully fit Brady would be properly contesting those places. But that just leaves unanswered questions, rather than missing solutions. I want to see a full strength side get a run out. 

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3 hours ago, Smoothy said:

I actually think that binning the League Cup is a good thing, because right now it's pointless for the Premier League teams when the carrot is that european competition that is below the Europa League, and the purpose of filling in mid-week floodlit evening games has waaaaaaaaaaay passed.  You could just reduce it to the Football League teams but then it becomes one of the existing competitions then, and even less desirable.  Might as well get rid of it.


Charity Shield - it's the English "Super Cup", and I kinda like it, but you know if it goes it goes.


I don't really like this proposal to have 16th place play playoffs against 3rd - 5th in the Championship.


Reducing teams in the Premier League to 18 would mean 34 gameweeks, which may solve the winter break issue.  But what about the Football League divisions, shouldn't they be reduced themselves cos they're ridiculously big now (and in fact wasn't there a recent proposal to do exactly this?).


Most EFL clubs play reserve players in the League Cup. 

My club has done a £5 ticket deal for years for League Cup games. It's a friendly for us. I'm a 30 year + season ticket holder and I wouldn't go to Wembley if we got to the final. 


We won't get into the Premier League. It's impossible. I support my club because it's my club. It's a community. It's something that's ours. Our club relies upon season ticket money as the big income. The fans are the biggest contributor. PL clubs don't need people in the stadium. 

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Any of the non-Founder clubs would be fucking idiotic to vote for this. Who knows what shit the Founders would pull once they got control.



Parry admitted the plans would not offer any safeguard against big clubs changing deals in future to suit their own best interests. “It’s impossible to set anything in stone for ever. But that is absolutely not a reason for not doing the right thing now."



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17 minutes ago, neoELITE said:

Maybe nobody has commented yet because Pickford hasn't had a howler, the England brass band aren't there or Clive isn't commentating.

In my case I haven’t worked out whether it counts for anything important yet.

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The Athletic take on 'Project Big Picture'



English football was plunged into civil war this weekend after the Football League Chairman Rick Parry, in collaboration with leading clubs Manchester United and Liverpool, presented an extraordinary proposal to reimagine the sport in this country.

Under a string of radical proposals that the Premier League warned could have a “damaging impact” on the national game, a leaked document entitled “Project Big Picture” suggested reducing the number of top-flight clubs from 20 to 18, ditching the Community Shield and Carabao Cup, reinventing the Championship play-off system and removing equal voting rights in the top-flight.

On the flip side, the proposal, described by EFL Chairman Parry as “the right way forward”, would also immediately hand Football League clubs a £250 million bailout to cover lost matchday income, hand £10 million grants to the Women’s Super League and Championship, and provide a £35 million grant to the FA for the National League and the grassroots game, and £55 million to cover the governing body’s operational losses.

However, the idea has immediately provoked fury from the Premier League and the British government, who have both negotiated with the Football League in recent weeks to secure a bailout. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport launched a scathing attack on the proposal, saying it was “surprised and disappointed” to hear about a “backroom deal cooked up” by the respective parties.

It is understood Manchester United’s owners, the Glazer family, have been in talks with Parry, and the same is true of Liverpool’s lead owner John W Henry, as well as shareholder Mike Gordon. The talks have been ongoing for three years between the parties, and Parry claimed on Sunday that Chelsea have also been involved in talks for some time. Liverpool and United fully informed their top-six rivals Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City of the proposals last week and on Sunday, the news of the groundbreaking plan broke in the Daily Telegraph.

As things stand, any change to Premier League regulations requires fourteen votes or more under a one member, one vote system. Yet Premier League clubs were further incensed by suggestions that Parry had encouraged leading top-flight clubs to simply resign from the top-flight and join the Football League in the event they lost the vote.

Parry, remarkably, refused to comment on this allegation during a hastily-organised press conference on Sunday and several sources admitted that the nuclear option of breaking away from the Premier League is possible in “extraordinary times”. Due to ongoing contractual obligations, this would leave leading clubs such as Liverpool and United open to legal action from their Premier League rivals. Neither club were prepared to comment on Sunday.

In the Premier League handbook, under regulation B.7, any club intending to resign as a member of the League ahead of a new season may do so by writing to the league’s secretary before December 31 of the previous campaign. Sources close to the top six insisted there have been no threats at all to break away.

At the heart of the issue is that the leading six clubs believe they deserve more power at the table because they generate the majority of revenue and interest in the English game. The fundamental obstacle is the bottom 14 clubs and persuading them to vote for something that appears counter to their own interests.

Premier League clubs below the top six were said to have considered this plan a “hostile takeover” rather than a proposal, as they were kept out of the loop. One source close to the big six conceded it should be seen either as a “coup or a revolution”. The big fear among opponents is that the concentrating of voting power in the hands of a select group of clubs could see them renege on promises of solidarity made within these proposals.

Those are not the only objections, though. One source described the Premier League, its leading clubs, the Football League and the government as being in “nuclear warfare” on Sunday evening, while there were also question marks over what the proposals mean for the women’s game. As English football licks its wounds, The Athletic sets out the proposals, who is in favour and who is steadfastly opposed to the game-changing plans.

What is Project Big Picture?

On Sunday morning, the Daily Telegraph published details of an 18-page document that set out a new vision for football in England.

English football is currently beset by an economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and negotiations between the Premier League, Football League and government have been rumbling on for several months as lower league clubs, shorn of matchday income and reduced sponsorship income, are threatened with extinction.

On the face of it, Project Big Picture includes several encouraging proposals. Most crucially, it would immediately present £250 million to the Football League, as well as a cumulative £100 million fund to the FA to cover losses and provide investment for the women’s game, the National League and grassroots football. This would provide a short-term cash injection to resuscitate an ailing sport. On a long-term level, EFL finances would be boosted by a new way of sharing the Premier League’s vast income.

Premier League clubs currently receive 92 per cent of distributable revenues but this would be reduced to 75 per cent under the proposals, as 25 per cent would instead go to the EFL. This would raise Championship income per club by £15.5 million, League One income by £3.5 million and League Two income by £2.3 million. While handing such a large share to the EFL would be a historic move there is no guarantee that finances would remain as appealing as they are at present, given an 18-team Premier League would have fewer of its own games to sell.

For supporters, away tickets would be capped at £20, away travel would be subsidised and there would be further exploration of safe standing.

The big six clubs, however, will be getting plenty in return. The Community Shield and the Carabao Cup, often seen as a burden to leading sides, will be axed altogether. In addition, the number of Premier League fixtures will be reduced from 38 to 34 in an 18-team division. The revised Premier League relegation system would see the bottom two clubs automatically relegated and the top two clubs in the Championship promoted. The third bottom Premier League side would then enter a four-way play-off with the third, fourth and fifth-placed Championship sides to secure a place in the top-flight the following season.

Parry speculated on Sunday that there would be a single campaign, ahead of the proposed 2022-23 start date, where the Premier League would relegate four sides and the Championship would only promote two. “This would be give-and-take from the Premier League and Championship,” he explained.

Controversially, the new proposals would guarantee voting rights to the nine clubs who, at any given moment, have spent the longest extended period in the top-flight. This would currently be the established top six, plus Southampton, West Ham and Everton. The document says that it would take only an agreement of two-thirds of the “long-term stakeholders”, in effect six teams, to legislate over several key issues, including vetoing prospective new owners of other Premier League clubs, the Premier League CEO position itself and how broadcasting income is distributed, as well as competition rules.

The proposal also suggests a hard salary cap for the Championship, League One and League Two, while clubs would also be forced to comply with UEFA-style Financial Fair Play regulations. There are further advantages proposed for top clubs, for instance how a Premier League side would be able to loan out fifteen players at once, including four players to the same club and recall loanees if the manager changes. Clubs would also be allowed to sell exclusive rights to eight of their live matches per season direct to supporters via digital platforms in all international territories.

So who is behind Project Big Picture? 

On Sunday, the question of who exactly the authored the document remained in question but it has been worked on for up to three years by Joel Glazer, the co-owner of Manchester United, along with John W Henry, Liverpool’s lead investor. The Athletic also understands that Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck has been heavily involved in discussions for quite some time. Liverpool and United formally presented the proposals to their top-six rivals Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City on Thursday, with a view to continuing discussions over the weekend. Different sources attributed each of Henry, Glazer, Parry and United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward with the credit for writing sections of the document but it was difficult to establish anyone prepared to take ultimate responsibility.

Yet even after the story emerged, infuriating Premier League clubs and the government, sources close to the proposal insisted on Sunday night that its creators are refusing to back down and want to push this through.

They have on their side the EFL chairman Parry, who is formerly the CEO of the Premier League and his backing for this idea stretches back as far as 1995. The key tenet is to bundle together the television rights for the Premier League and Football League and redistribute 25 per cent to the EFL. Indeed, while being interviewed to be EFL chairman ahead of winning the role in 2019, Parry pitched this exact concept and was supported in the room by the current Burton Albion chief executive Jez Moxey.

The plan has been driven by Glazer and Henry, although Parry, the EFL board and the FA Chairman Greg Clarke have all, at different times, been privy to conversations on the issue. The FA, curiously, did not formally comment on Sunday but it was mentioned in the Premier League’s own statement, implying the two bodies are united in opposition.

The Athletic has learnt the proposal was first intended to be launched quite some time ago, indeed the current working document is version 18, and Parry would have liked to begin the campaign in April, only for the pandemic to hold off the discussion.

Cynics will raise their eyebrows but sources close to Liverpool’s Henry and United’s Glazer insisted they see the romance of English football’s pyramid and have regularly, during discussions, spoken of a responsibility to protect lower league clubs. One source said Woodward “is often on the side of the angels” when it comes to supporters’ issues and lower league clubs, and he too has been keen to drive the proposals forward. Critics will certainly point to the Glazer family’s record of alienating United supporters with a leveraged takeover deal.

Who supports the proposal and why?

It is now clear that Liverpool and Manchester United are significant advocates of the deal, along with Chelsea. Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City have all been privy to discussions but their individual positions are unclear. Sources close to the overall project suggested on Sunday that the top six sides are broadly supportive.

Elsewhere, Football League chairman Parry is spearheading the support on behalf of his 72 clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two. It is understood that the vast majority of League One and Two clubs see the benefit of the proposals both in terms of the short-term bailout of £250 million, in addition to a more equitable distribution of television money in the long-term. The government has been considering a £100 million package to bail out matchday losses for League One, League Two and the National League combined but the EFL believes it needs £250 million to complete this’s season’s fixtures and avoid clubs going bust.

One executive at a League One club explains: “The EFL is in such a bad position, something has gone wrong, it can’t continue. Who is coming up with a solution? Nobody, except for Manchester United and Liverpool. There is disagreement on everything in the EFL and we never get a consensus, whether it is resuming the league after lockdown or doing the play-offs. We never get anywhere. Time is not on our side and if stays this way, clubs will go bust.

“So yes, we are at the mercy of really rich guys, but it is good someone is taking initiative, as everything else on the table is so limited.

“Is it a disaster to have more power for top six? Doesn’t every industry have big players? This proposal will make clubs be more stable in lower leagues and now it will make more sense to own a lower league club. This will save many clubs from going bust.

“The government won’t bail us out long term. They are very conscious of the cosmetics of supporting an industry that has a lot of money and spends fortunes on players. They will do a short-term solution to cover matchday losses but the average League One side is still losing £3 million (a season), with or without COVID-19. United’s idea gives us security in the long term.”

Fleetwood Town owner Andy Pilley described it as a “fantastic proposal that will save EFL clubs from oblivion”.

There was also a warning that the alternative options may be far worse. Barnsley co-chairman Paul Conway told The Athletic: “Project Big Picture would judiciously reallocate more media revenue to the EFL and hopefully reign in the reckless spending which endangers the entire EFL.

“With the planned expansion of UEFA to include a third competition after the Champions League and Europa League, it is conceivable that up to 10 EPL teams could be playing in UEFA competitions during the season totalling 60 group stage matches and then the knockout matches.

“If the smaller Premier League clubs do not accept Project Big Picture it is entirely conceivable that the bigger Premier League clubs go along with the push of other big UEFA clubs to move UEFA matches to the weekend resulting in 60 to 80 Premier League matches forced to be moved to mid-week, which would hurt the smaller Premier League teams as these are typically their biggest grossing match days.

“The bigger Premier League clubs aim to grow their global brand either through Project Big Picture or other alternatives. The global football audience prefers to watch Liverpool play Bayern Munich versus Liverpool play Burnley.”

Parry also insisted on Sunday that he has the support of many of his members, even including some in the Championship who may have been considered sceptics as the number of Premier League places would be reduced.

Parry said: “From the comments from clubs today to me, it is a surprise to them, but it feels like unity and the professional game reuniting for the first time since the formation of the Premier League. It is hard to imagine another proposal coming close.”

Who opposes the proposal and why?

This is where it gets tasty. If the big six are to push these proposals through conventionally, they require 14 of the 20 Premier League clubs to vote in favour. Yet, why would they? Many clubs start the season with one eye over their shoulders and are worried, first and foremost, about staying in the top flight. Reducing the numbers to 18 makes this considerably harder.

In addition, there are concerns that parachute payments would stop for those clubs relegated from the top flight, while the changes to Premier League voting rights have raised alarm bells. Currently, any changes to top-flight regulations demand 14 votes in favour and every team has a vote. Yet the United and Liverpool proposal insists that only the nine longest-serving Premier League clubs, at any given time, would be given a vote. This would include matters such as the distribution of television income but also more trivial footballing issues, such as the recently hotly disputed five substitutions rule which was adopted during lockdown but then banished for the new season. This has led to fears from some opposing clubs alleging it is a power grab.

Essentially, therefore, the proposals penalise the clubs who fear Premier League relegation and also ambitious Football League outfits who would like to gamble their way towards the top flight. The Premier League’s central power base was, therefore, left furious after being cut out of the talks.

Parry admitted broadcasters had not been consulted, and said: “The Premier League could have come up with proposals at any stage or solved the short-term issue on rescue funding a lot quicker. For whatever reason, they have not. Am I ashamed to back a bold plan? No. They talk about the need for collaboration. How long has it taken to get short-term rescue package to the starting gate? Months. The government said they needed the Premier League to step up to the plate in May.”

The Premier League, however, approached the Football League during lockdown, warning they would need to finish their own season before organising the terms of the bail-out. This was because the top-flight could have faced its own meltdown if forced to return in excess of £750 million to broadcasters in a hefty rebate. As such, sources say that the Premier League then invited the Football League for talks last month, where they felt the EFL were not overly engaged. Only on Sunday did the Premier League discover that Parry was working with two of their biggest clubs about an extraordinary rebrand.

Indeed, Parry was asked on Sunday if it was true he had invited the big six clubs to quit the Premier League and simply form another league under the Football League banner. He declined to comment.

The Premier League’s chief executive Richard Masters is said to have been working around the clock to secure a consensus for a Premier League bailout but he wants a deal that protects all the top-flight’s members, rather than placing excessive power into the hands of a select few clubs. Both the Premier League chairman Gary Hoffman and CEO Masters were cut out of the secret talks, angering several clubs.

There are also concerns that the document insists on 34 weekend fixtures for the Premier League, therefore opening the door for an enhanced Champions League, as devised by Juventus’ owner Andrea Agnelli, while some Premier League club executives also fear the FA Cup will become a midweek competition. Parry rejects this view, saying the removal of the Carabao Cup will renew the “lustre” of the competition. Sources close to the proposals also insisted the FA Cup would remain a weekend tournament.

The anger was palpable. The Premier League issued a strongly-worded statement saying discussions “should be carried out through the proper channels” and a number of proposals “could have a damaging impact on the whole game”. “We are disappointed to see that Rick Parry, Chair of the EFL, has given his on-the-record support,” they added.

One Premier League club source described the developments as dispiriting. Another Premier League club executive was furious he had discovered the news on a newspaper website. “It has never been mentioned to us,” they said. “That’s why it’s such a disgrace. Same old thing. Big clubs working out ways where they get to keep the money and the power. The other clubs will come down on Woodward like a ton of bricks.”

A different Premier League source said it was yet another attempt by the big six to create more space in the calendar for European competitions, while other sources said the proposed UEFA-style Financial Fair Play restrictions would make it nigh-on impossible for a new owner to ever spend significantly enough to gatecrash the elite. In addition, the top six clubs alone, under revised governance rules, could themselves veto a takeover from a rich investor they perceive as a threat.

Meanwhile, not all Championship clubs are as united as Parry suggested. Sources close to clubs with immediate ambitions to be promoted to the Premier League described them as “highly unimpressed” on Sunday and hit out at the “greed” of the established elite. Indeed, one club in the lower tiers was actively opposed, with their chairman saying: “Effectively it will crystallise the power of the big six in perpetuity and also lead to the formation of a Premier League 2, with an increased gap between that and League One. The detail is still missing but the timing is classic exploitation of the short-term crisis with a few dog bones to smooth the transition.”

A Championship chief executive cautioned: “It may be easy to get the buy-in from the EFL but I doubt it has enough votes to pass in the Premier League. Fulham, Burnley, West Brom, Sheffield United, Leeds, Palace and Brighton would have no interest in backing this.”

One of his Championship peers added: “But I’ll keep an open mind as we assess it. The clear losers are the lower half of the Premier League, who have got far too big for their boots.”

What happens next?

A battle for public opinion will now play out. The Conservative government has already laid out its opposition in no uncertain terms.

A spokesperson for the Department of 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.”

There is also concern in some quarters over the lack of detail in the proposals for the women’s game. The document, seen by The Athletic, says that a working group will be set up to develop and establish a new independent league for women’s professional football in England, not to be owned by the Premier League or the FA. This perhaps opens the door to private equity funding for the women’s game or a sponsor-led initiative but this would seem a high-risk approach when the game requires guaranteed income. The proposals do include a £10 million bailout for the Women’s Super League and Championship, in addition to a pledge of more than £50 million per annum for the WSL, Championship, Women’s FA Cup and women’s grassroots funding.

Over Zoom calls and a private WhatsApp group, the big six clubs remained embroiled in negotiations on Sunday and there was no sign of an immediate climbdown. Attention will turn to The FA, as its chairman Clarke has been aware of these discussions. The FA has a golden share in the Premier League and therefore the ability to veto changes to regulations on promotion or relegation. It could kill the proposals before they are even off the ground. The FA is still to outline a clear position but the Premier League, which mentioned a shared desire between themselves and the FA to find a solution in their statement on Sunday, is hopeful the governing body will fall in line.

The matter will be discussed at a no doubt intense Premier League meeting this week and could, in theory, be put to a vote that requires 14 or more in support to approve. “Even if they don’t get that vote,” one source insisted, “they will keep pushing this. They want this to happen.”

Parry remained confident despite the government knockback. “It does not make it a non-starter. The merits still shine through. Fans have been considered and it is about saving the pyramid. I find it hard to reconcile our thoughts and the government position. It will not deter us. It is hard to imagine another deal coming close.”


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Why stop at 6 clubs. Why not go to the logical endpoint and concentrate power in one club. In addition to the revenue generated by playing football, bonus money can be generated by a regular Hunger Games style competition where football executives tear themselves apart in order to ensure the odds are ever in their favour. 

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I think moving UEFA games to the weekend would be a very silly move. There’s only about 4 games a season in Europe that are interesting, and even then they aren’t of massive interest to a lot of neutrals.


The talks started in 2017 apparently, they really were shit up by Leicester winning the league and then Wolves pushing for Europe regularly weren’t they?

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