Details of Project Big Picture came to light yesterday, and have been met with immediate and strong resistance and criticism from just about all corners, from fans to organizers to the government.
The brainchild of Rick Parry, current chair of the EFL and the former founding CEO of the Premier League, and the owners of Liverpool and Manchester United, the proposal is being largely seen as a naked power grab by the top teams in the Premier League, while dangling the carrot of better financial support for the lower leagues. And while that may be a good thing for those teams in division 2-4 as well as non-league football — and apparently already has “majority support” in the EFL — it’s unlikely to gain much support, if any, from the other teams in the Premier League.
In fact, according to the Independent, even most of the remaining Big Six teams “have reservations” about the proposal. It’s not specified what those concerns may be, but it’s claimed that Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester City all have them, with only Spurs “supportive” of the efforts at the moment (possibly thanks to the stadium rebate they’d get, as per the Telegraph).
Exclusive: 'Project Big Picture' offers retrospective subsidies for new stadium builds/improvements with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur among those who would benefit https://t.co/aeDEQdoDN2— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceTel) October 12, 2020
That said, the report makes it clear that even if this proposal is shot down, which it most likely will be (if it hasn’t been already), those behind it aren’t giving up. And some of its ideas are indeed worth exploring, such as restructuring the league to just 18 teams, trimming the fixture list by removing the League Cup, increasing the revenue sharing across all of English football, and figuring out a solution for B Teams or Loan Armies and the like.
English football needs drastic change – just not these changes@MiguelDelaney on Project Big Picture— Indy Football (@IndyFootball) October 12, 2020
Whether we can achieve those reforms without tilting the balance of power even more in favor of the big teams is another question entirely however. Teams at the top end, and their owners, want to remove as much risk from their investments as possible, and the only way to do that is to practically remove the risk of relegation. If they can’t get that “at home”, might they consider more radical solutions? The idea of a European Super League is never far away, and probably getting ever closer, and it’s not hard to envision the top teams in all the leagues (not just in the Premier League), all of whom rely on an increasingly global fanbase, jumping ship one day from the traditional national pyramid structure to more of an international franchise model. It would be the next logical and perhaps inevitable step in the evolution of modern football.
Sooner or later English football has to change— Indy Football (@IndyFootball) October 12, 2020
But is Project Big Picture right for the Premier League and EFL?
By @TonyEvans92a https://t.co/NK2igWdSMN