Premier League says proposals to overhaul English football could be ‘damaging’

EFL chairman Rick Parry has backed ‘Project Big Picture’.

By Press Association Published: 11 October 2020 - 3.07pm

The Premier League has expressed its disappointment that EFL chairman Rick Parry is supporting “damaging” radical plans for an overhaul of the top flight.

Among the controversial proposals outlined in the plans, called Project Big Picture, are a reduction in the Premier League to 18 teams, greater power given to the so-called ‘big six’ and the abolition of the League Cup and Community Shield.

In return, 25 per cent of the Premier League’s annual income would go to EFL clubs.

It is a plan which, the PA news agency understands, is being driven by Parry and not, as suggested, champions Liverpool and Manchester United, although both clubs are engaged with the radical reform and their main rivals are likely to follow.

proposed changes would be for the good of the English game
Rick Parry says proposed changes would be for the good of the English game (PA)

“In the Premier League’s view, a number of the individual proposals in the plan published today could have a damaging impact on the whole game and we are disappointed to see that Rick Parry, chair of the EFL, has given his on-the-record support,” said a Premier League statement.

“The Premier League has been working in good faith with its clubs and the EFL to seek a resolution to the requirement for Covid-19 rescue funding. This work will continue.

“Football has many stakeholders, therefore this work should be carried out through the proper channels enabling all clubs and stakeholders the opportunity to contribute.”

“It is definitely going to be challenging and it is an enormous change so that won’t be without some pain”
- EFL chairman Rick Parry

It is reportedly being proposed £250m would be paid up front to see EFL clubs through the current financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic and matches being played behind closed doors, with a gift of £100m to sustain the Football Association.

However, there would also be a revamp of the Premier League voting system, abolishing the threshold of 14 votes to pass any resolution, and the introduction of a relegation play-off for the 16th-placed club against clubs in third, fourth and fifth in the SkyBet Championship.

“It is definitely going to be challenging and it is an enormous change so that won’t be without some pain,” Parry told the Telegraph.

Sheffield United v Wolverhampton Wanderers – Premier League – Bramall Lane
Empty grounds have increased the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic for all clubs (Laurence Griffiths/NMC Pool)

“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?”

Accrington chairman Andy Holt believes without major change the EFL is on a “one-way ticket to disaster”.

“There was always going to be a price to pay. Not heard a jot from EFL about this and much of the detail is missing,” he wrote on Twitter.

“An attachment to earnings order at 25 per cent is better for championship by far. I’m not automatically opposed or horrified by this.

“The EFL is on a one way ticket to disaster as things stand. It cannot survive in the existing set up with the Premier League.

“It will fail and break up as clubs fail. I’m glad for once everyone round the table accepts this.”

Reacting to the developments, the Football Supporters’ Association said it “notes the report with grave concern” and added: “Football is far more than a business to be carved up; it is part of our communities and our heritage, and football fans are its lifeblood. As football’s most important stakeholders, it is crucial that fans are consulted and involved in the game’s decision-making.”