Premier League ‘Project Big Picture’ rejected by EFL, experts term it as ‘Power Grab’

The EFL have rejected the Premier League’s £150million ($193Mn) rescue package because they do not accept the conditions attached. According to a Daily Mail report, Premier League’s bailout offer is REJECTED by the EFL as £110m loan is derided as a ‘gun to the head’.

The plan, devised by Liverpool and Manchester United, would see EFL clubs receive a £250million bail-out, but at the expense of power being in the hands of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’, which various clubs, experts and football fans have termed as nothing else than ‘Power Grab’

Meanwhile FA chairman Greg Clarke has also called for ‘unity and transparency’ amid Project Big Picture talks. In a letter to the FA Council, who are due to meet on Thursday, Clarke explained his concerns regarding the proposals of Project Big Picture.

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POWER GRAB OR RESCUE ACT?

The offer of financial help, which was ordered by the Government to get football through the pandemic, is not a part of the Project Big Picture plan which has rocked the game. Plans for major changes to the structure and finances of English football, known as ‘Project Big Picture’, have caused a furious debate. Ahead of a series of meetings this week, here is a Q&A looking at the main issues…

WHAT IS ‘PROJECT BIG PICTURE’?

It is a series of proposals put together by the owners of Liverpool and Manchester United along with Rick Parry, the chair of the Football League (EFL). The document has been worked on for around three years but came to light on Sunday when published by The Telegraph.

HOW WOULD THE PREMIER LEAGUE CHANGE?

Among many proposals the stand-out is that the league would shrink from 20 teams to 18. The bottom two teams would be relegated to the second tier Championship and be replaced annually by the top two teams in that division. There would be an annual four team playoff for a place in the top flight involving the third, fourth and fifth placed teams in the Championship and the 16th-placed Premier League team. All changes would take place for the 2022-23 season. In order to get to 18 teams, the prior season would probably see four teams relegated and only two promoted. The League Cup and Community Shield would be scrapped and the season would start later in August, allowing a longer window for lucrative tours.

IS THIS THE PREMIER LEAGUE’S ‘COVID BAIL-OUT’ FOR THE EFL?

The plan has not been produced by or agreed to by the Premier League but it does contain a proposed ‘rescue fund’ with 250 million pounds ($326.28 million) earmarked as an immediate one-off payment to the 72 EFL clubs and another 100 million for the FA. It also envisages a rise in the annual ‘solidarity payments’ from the Premier League to the EFL from 4% of media net revenues to 25%. The idea is also for the Premier League to sell the EFL’s broadcast rights as part of a package.

SO WHERE IS ALL THAT MONEY COMING FROM?

The proposal also calls for an end to ‘parachute payments’ to clubs relegated from the Premier League. They are calculated as a share of the broadcasting rights and though they vary, in the last two years the payment has averaged around 250 million pounds. Having two fewer Premier League clubs would also reduce the amount shared out from the collective pot.

WOULD THE BIG SIX GET A BIGGER SHARE OF THE TV CASH?

Yes, almost certainly. Several options are being floated but the principle behind them is an increase in the share based on ‘merit’ – a weighting based on league position, clearly a good idea for teams frequently finishing in the top six.

WHY ARE CRITICS CALLING IT A ‘POWER GRAB’?

Because the project also calls for ‘Special Voting Rights’ for the nine clubs that have the longest continuous membership of the Premier League. This marks a break with the system of ‘one club, one vote’ in place since the league’s founding in 1992. Those nine clubs currently would comprise the ‘big six’ of Liverpool, United, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City, along with Southampton, West Ham United and Everton – the three other longest-serving top-flight clubs. The nine would have the power to elect or remove a new chief executive, approve broadcast and media rights deals, handle cost control rules, block changes to television revenue distribution and even veto any new club owner approved by the PL board. They could exercise all those powers, regardless of the opinions of other PL clubs. In order to carry out those powers, six of the nine would need to agree to a given measure, which critics have suggested is a de facto handing of power to the big six.

WHAT HAPPENS IF IT IS REJECTED?

If the PL clubs vote against the plan then all manner of scenarios come into play and for EFL clubs there is the risk of further delay and uncertainty over the ‘bailout’. For the big six, the question is whether they will simply accept the smaller clubs thwarting their project? Some media reports have stated that Parry has suggested to the big clubs that they simply walk out of the Premier League and become the ‘big six’ in the Championship – which would effectively cut the Premier League off. When asked, Parry refused to comment on that suggestion. The Premier League clubs and the FA Council are both due to meet this week.

WHY WOULD THE SMALLER CLUBS VOTE FOR THIS?

It requires 14 of the 20 PL clubs to pass any proposal or policy and it is hard to imagine that the smaller clubs would vote for less power and a smaller share of the revenue. However, it is likely that the proposals will be negotiated and changes could be made to help bring more clubs on board and help the big six find the eight clubs they need to turn their plan into a reality. The FA also has a ‘golden share’ in the Premier League which would allow it block the changes.