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Project Big Picture: A change to English football as we know it

Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC are leading a radical shake up of the English footballing pyramid, known as Project Big Picture.

The plan was originally devised by the owners of Liverpool FC but have been backed by Manchester United owners, in what could be one of the biggest reforms to English football in recent history.

The ideas drawn up as part of the project include: the Premier League being reduced to just 18 teams as opposed to its current 20 teams, football league clubs will take 25 per cent of future revenues, which will see an end to the controversial parachute payments, a termination of the EFL Cup and Community Shield, £250 million compensation to the EFL, that is also representative of the bail-out linked to the Covid-19 pandemic and preferential votes will be given to the ‘Big Six’ clubs (Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City) as well as three of the longest serving Premier League clubs, Everton, Southampton and West Ham.

14 of the 20 Premier League teams were unaware of the plans prior to its leak to the Daily Telegraph, sparking a statement to be released from the Premier League themselves who condemned the idea, saying “a number of the individual proposals in the plan published today could have a damaging impact on the whole game".

The English top flight has also expressed its disappointment with EFL chairman, Rick Parry’s public backing of the plans.

"This is a proposal to reset the long-term future of the English pyramid,” started Parry.

"This would produce long-term sustainability for all of our clubs. It would narrow the gap between the Championship and the Premier League. It would abolish parachute payments, which create a major imbalance within the Championship. Plus, there's a short-term package of immediate relief.

"It probably is the biggest idea since the formation of the Premier League. In terms of rebalancing the game, providing fairer shares for all, securing the financial future of the pyramid - for us, it's extremely attractive."

Parry was later asked about whether the proposals had garnered the support of clubs in the EFL.

“We shall see in the coming days. I genuinely believe it's in their very best interests. I've had the chance to talk to a limited number of them today and they've been extremely receptive."

Talks have already started between the ‘Big Six’ clubs, where reportedly Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City have reservations about the new reforms that have been brought to the table by Liverpool’s owners, who have been planning Project Big Picture since 2017, only to be fast-tracked as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, that has brought financial turmoil amongst clubs across English football.

It is believed that the Premier League elite agree that a 20-team top-flight is too demanding and therefore impacting European performances. Some have suggested that reducing the league to just 18 teams would promote further competitiveness, rather than having teams solely focused on remaining in the league to receive its higher TV broadcasting revenues.

Promotion to the league and relegation would also be impacted by the new measures. The bottom two teams would be automatically relegated and replaced by the top two sides in the Championship, however, the team in 16th would face teams from the second-tiers third, fourth and fifth placed sides.

For Project Big Picture to be given the green light, 14 of the 20 Premier League sides would have to support it. Currently, it remains unclear as to what the opinions are of the proposals by the majority of the league.

Author: Jake Wilkin