The biggest change in how English football is structured in 30 years has been proposed, but there are plenty of hurdles to leap over before Project Big Picture becomes a reality…
We were all enjoying a relatively sleepy international week Sunday when the news dropped that a small group of the very biggest clubs in the country had devised a plan to profoundly change the way English football is structured.
‘Project Big Picture’ is undoubtedly a terrible name, but are the proposals under that name as terrible? They include distributing more money to EFL clubs, reducing the size of the Premier League from 20 to 18 clubs, the abolition of the League Cup and Community Shield and many more ideas.
Perhaps the most important of those is the switch from the current governance structure in the Premier League of one club, one vote with a two-thirds majority required to do anything, to essentially the big six being able to do whatever they want.
“It’s the biggest proposed shake-up since 1992, no question about that,” said The Athletic’s Matt Slater on The Totally Football Show this week.
“There are so many proposals, it really is the reset that people have been talking about, that comes around every few years when there’s a crisis. But I guess it’s that old adage that a crisis can be an opportunity.
“There’s some good stuff in there – that if it was presented separately, or even in little chunks, the majority of fans would quite like – about how we redistribute the pie, how we address bad owners, if we’re playing the right amount of games, or the right type of games. I don’t even mind some of the proposals to rejig the playoffs.
“There are so many issues here with how we do things and how we divide our money, we need a really big reset – this is a huge reset. [But the big clubs are saying] because we’re giving you so much, we’re answering so many of the things you’ve been asking for: here are our strings. The price is a high one.”
And then there is that carve up to ensure the big boys have more of – all of, perhaps – the say in matters of governance.
“The big, scariest and most alarming part of this plan is that the Premier League has operated for 30 years on the basis that two-thirds of the clubs have to agree in order to do anything. One club, one vote – Manchester United’s vote is as important as Bournemouth or Swansea or Blackpool’s. The big six can jump up and down but they will lose if the other 14 stick together, as has happened.
“This is one of the things that’s been annoying clubs for so long. The funny thing is it was the five subs rule that was the last straw. The big clubs wanted five subs, but the smaller Premier League clubs said there was a competitive integrity issue here, that it would be a big advantage to the bigger clubs with their bigger squads, so they said no.
“It might seem like a relatively small thing, but the bigger clubs just said “this keeps happening.”
“The big six, plus Everton, West Ham and Southampton are ‘super voters’ – they have the real power here. You only need two-thirds of those nine to make changes. They’re in control of all the big decisions – they can sack the chief executive, they can rework the TV packages if they like.”
Of course, these are only proposals, so will they actually happen?
“My gut feeling is this won’t happen. The Premier League itself is furious – we shouldn’t be surprised about this because it massively changes the way the Premier League operates.
“The people who really lose here are the other 14 – it’s two fewer places, four fewer games and they’re losing all their power. I’d be worried about that long-term concentration of power in the top six.”
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