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Home   /   Project ‘Big Picture’ – A sad fate for the English game.
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by Sam Stone.

As the fallout from ‘Project big picture’ ripples through the echelons of English football, many are undecided about whether the proposal led by Manchester United and Liverpool will benefit or hinder the English game.

From the perspective of a match harden fan of an EFL club languishing in the 3rd tier, the prospect of a cash injection and increased share of Premier League spoils is, on the surface, an appealing one. Yet, even the most desperate fan of an EFL club must question the decision to seemingly ‘sell their soul’ to the perspective ‘big six’.

However, the sad reality is that this proposal that has been put forward is currently the only glimmer of hope for EFL clubs. It is a depressing thought, that selling the future of English football to six foreign billionaire owners is the only viable option on the table. An option that EFL chief Rick Parry has unsurprisingly backed to the hills.

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It is hardly shocking that Parry has fully backed the potential £250 million immediate bailouts. He will undoubtedly see it as an opportunity to paper over the cracks of his mismanagement. Wigan, Charlton, Macclesfield, Sheffield Wednesday have all teetered on the edge, whilst Bury fans sadly lost the club they love. The standard of decision making at the EFL has a lot to answer for. Parry is seeking an opportunity to prevent any more clubs from going to the wall under his tenure, and Project big picture is an easy out. Regardless of the Coronavirus pandemic, the EFL hierarchy has sanctioned ridiculous sales to unknown owners, and their handling of project restart was laughable. The fact that Parry has jumped immediately on board to save his own mistakes, and in turn sell the soul of English football, speaks volumes of the reform needed in the EFL. A fan-led review has been a long time coming.

Unsurprisingly, the Premier League is frustrated with Parry’s endorsement of the ‘Big picture’ concept and have called for him to finally resign and allow the EFL to finally get back to a sustainable plan for the future.

There are parts to the proposal that are appealing for cash stripped EFL clubs. As previously mentioned, there would be an immediate £250 million rescue fund. This would undoubtedly save a few clubs from oblivion. Furthermore, there would be an increase in the amount of money EFL clubs receive from the Premier League’s annual revenue from 4% to 25%. From an outside perspective, without Parry spearheading the big six ‘love in’, these are good for the longevity of the game. Also, the proposal looks to incorporate EFL clubs with a proportion (25%) of all future TV deals along with the scrapping of the devilish parachute payments. These are good benefits, although it is staggering that for this to happen the majority of clubs in England would ultimately have to hand over all powers to the top six Premier League clubs. 

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Surely a rescue package like this would be at the forefront of those who are at the top of games ‘to-do’ list. The ludicrous money that is thrown around at the top of the game could so easily save many clubs from nothingness. There should not be a pay-off, a catch, a two-way street for the rest of English football to agree to. The commercialised Premier League littered with tourist fans has got to remember this game will be nothing without the Community clubs. The heartbeat of so many people’s lives. 

The fact that the proposal has been put forward, sadly, shows the way that the game is going in the long run. The two main instigators – Manchester United and Liverpool – could, at the very least, try and hide their blatant attempt at trying to seize power at the top of the game. The main sticking point with the proposal is the change to how decision making is made in the top division. Instead of a 14-team majority, decisions will be left to the nine longest serving clubs in England’s top division, with a six-team majority needed. This essentially hands all policy-making decisions to Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, and Manchester City. Southampton, West ham, and Everton also get a vote, however, given the six-team majority, their vote is somewhat redundant. Furthermore, the nine clubs can oppose and ‘veto’ perspective takeovers of other clubs. The other main talking points include reducing the Premier League to 18 teams, introducing a Championship/Premier League play-off, and scrapping the League Cup and Community Shield.

The forlorn actuality of the proposal is that those at the top of the game have used the Coronavirus pandemic to grasp the power in English football. Despairingly, this is the only proposal currently on the table for the rest of the football pyramid. A bailout is desperately needed; however, they shouldn’t have to relinquish power maybe a very high price to pay.

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July 2024