Liverpool and Manchester United have been working together on a proposal that would see a radical set of changes in English football.
The Daily Telegraph – who have brought ‘Project Big Picture’ to light after seeing a ‘Revitalisation’ document – say it would be ‘the biggest shake-up in football in a generation’. We’re inclined to agree, it’s bonkers.
The working document – written by Liverpool’s American ownership Fenway Sports Group with reported support from United – is expected to be backed by the other members of the Big Six, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham.
The remarkable proposals include reducing the Premier League to 18 teams, the abolishment of the League Cup and Community Shield, a play-off tournament involving both Championship and Premier League clubs, increased EFL funding and – here’s the kicker – a controlling stake in decision-making for the nine clubs who have been in the Premier League the longest.
What’s more, only six of those ‘long-term shareholders’ will be required to make major changes, including amending rules and having the ability to veto a new owner taking over a rival club.
Six you say? What an interesting number.
The plan – which has been in the works since 2017 but has recently accelerated in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – is supported by the EFL chairman Rick Parry who has held talks with Liverpool’s John W Henry and the Glazer family, who own United.
Parry told The Daily Telegraph that he had the support of many of the EFL’s 72 members 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.
“It is definitely going to be challenging and it is an enormous change so that won’t be without some pain,” Parry added: “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 plans 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.