Woodward, JWH shared ‘unearthly WhatsApp messages’

Will Ford
John W Henry Liverpool

A report has revealed just how closely Liverpool owner John W Henry and Manchester United’s outgoing executive vice-chairman Ed Woodard worked together on Project Big Picture.

The pair were also heavily involved in the European Super League plans which rocked the world of football last week, leading to a dramatic U-turn just two days after the proposal was announced.

Henry has since apologised and Woodward has announced his resignation in the wake of the debacle.

But it wasn’t the first time the duo have been at the heart of plans to revolutionise English football – they were also the driving force behind Project Big Picture, put forward in October.

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That too received widespread condemnation from the football community.

Project Big Picture would have seen the bigger clubs – like Liverpool and Man United – receive greater control over the running of the Premier League in return for redistributing funding down the football pyramid.

25 per cent of future TV revenue wouuld have been handed down to EFL clubs, but the other parts of the plan – reducing the Premier League to 18 teams, as well greater voting rights for the bigger teams – led to its rejection.

The Premier League released a statement at the time claiming ‘a number of the individual proposals in the plan published today could have a damaging impact on the whole game’.

And The Athletic has revealed the extent to which Henry and Woodward were involved.

The report reads: ‘Henry has considered republishing Project Big Picture, even proposing that it might be a good thing if he gave up some of the controls he would have gained had the original plan been successful. Though chairmen and owners from the EFL were prepared to discuss this with him, his attention soon lapsed.

‘It is telling that Ed Woodward was able to work so closely with Henry over Project Big Picture. Woodward would sometimes send Henry WhatsApp messages in the morning with amendments to the plan. Henry would then regularly call him back almost straight away despite the unearthly hour in Boston.

‘He did not use his secretary, writing the whole thing himself, and Woodward formed the impression that because he’d spent so much time on it, working on it non-stop, others would value his ideas as much as him.’