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World exclusive: Man Utd and Liverpool driving 'Project Big Picture' - football’s biggest shake-up in a generation

18-team Premier League, increased EFL funding and axing of League Cup among raft of proposals in 'Revitalisation' document seen by Telegraph

By Sam Wallace, Chief Football Writer11 October 2020 • 11:45am
 

Manchester United and Liverpool are the driving force behind the biggest changes to English football in a generation and an extraordinary overhaul of the Premier League, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

The two clubs have worked together on a radical set of proposals – called “Project Big Picture” - that will reshape the finances of the game. The Premier League, the most lucrative sports league in the world, would see a reduction to 18 teams, and controlling power in the hands of the biggest clubs.

In return for tearing up many of the rules that have governed the game since the Premier League’s inception in 1992 there will be £250 million rescue package to the Football League to see them through the Covid crisis.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal the details of the working document “Revitalisation” authored by Liverpool’s American ownership Fenway Sports Group with support from United. It anticipates the backing of the other members of the so-called big six, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

In a remarkable set of proposals, which will send shockwaves through the game, 25 per cent of the Premier League’s annual revenue will go to the EFL clubs with £250 million paid up front to see them through the current crisis. There would also be a gift of £100 million to sustain the Football Association.

However, there would be an abolition of the one-club, one-vote principle that has sustained the Premier League since its inception as well as the abolition of the threshold of 14 votes to pass any decision or regulation change.

 

Under the new proposals, the League Cup and the Community Shield would be abolished. There have been additional discussions that the League Cup would survive but without the participation of the clubs in Europe.

There would be two automatic promotion places for Championship clubs, but the third, fourth and fifth placed clubs would be in a play-off tournament with the 16th placed Premier League club.

The nine clubs who have been in the Premier League for the longest - which includes the big six - would dictate its running in every aspect and would be free to play more games in the expanded Champions League that is anticipated from the 2024-2025 season onwards.

As well as the Premier League dropping from 20 clubs to 18, there would be 24 in each of the Championship, League One and League Two making a total of 90.

The plan is supported by the EFL chairman Rick Parry who has held talks with Liverpool’s principal owner, the American investor John W Henry, and shareholder and director Mike Gordon. In addition, Parry has spoken to the Glazer family, who own United.

 

The talks began in 2017 but have been accelerated since the coronavirus pandemic has thrust football into the grip of crisis with no fans in stadiums until March at the earliest. Liverpool and United are prepared for a fierce debate over their proposals but they want them implemented as soon as possible.

The Revitalisation document calls for immediate action to cut dramatically what it calls the “revenue chasm” in earnings from television contracts between the Premier League and the EFL. In order to discourage Championship clubs from gambling recklessly on promotion, the parachute payments system would be abolished in favour of the 25 per cent share of Premier League revenue being shared more equitably among EFL clubs.

Under proposals for the new model of distribution of television revenue in the Premier League, Fenway, the driving force behind the document, insist there would be no greater share for the top six. Their stated aim is to eliminate the huge gap in earnings between Premier League and EFL clubs while in return having a greater control of the decisions made by the Premier League.

 

The document says: “A reset of the economics and governance of the English football pyramid is long overdue”.

The proposals also rewrite the Premier League’s 20-club democracy in favour of placing huge power in the hands of the nine clubs with the longest continual stay in the division. As things stand that is the big six, as well as Everton, Southampton and West Ham. Those nine clubs afforded “long-term shareholder status” would have unprecedented power, with the votes of just six of them required to make sweeping changes. These clubs would even be able to veto a new owner taking over a rival club.

 

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, Parry said that he had the support of many of his 72 members, many currently facing financial ruin, to go ahead with the plan. He said: “What do we do? Leave it exactly as it is and allow the smaller clubs to wither? Or do we do something about it? And you can’t do something about it without something changing. And the view of our clubs is if the [big] six get some benefits but the 72 also do, we are up for it.”

He accepted there would be opposition from the Premier League clubs outside the big six who would see it as detrimental to their financial prospects with less money and two fewer places in the top flight.

“It is definitely going to be challenging and it is an enormous change so that won’t be without some pain,” Parry said: “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?”

The proposals include:

  • £250 million immediately to the EFL to compensate its clubs for lost matchday revenue, deducted from future television revenue earnings and financed by a loan taken out by the Premier League
  • Special status for the nine longest serving clubs – and the vote of only six of those “long-term shareholders” required to make major changes, including amending rules and regulations, agreeing contracts, removal of the chief executive, and a wide-ranging veto including on club ownership
  • Premier League to go to 18 clubs from 20
  • £100 million one-off gift to the FA to cover its coronavirus losses, the non-league game, the women’s game, the grassroots
  • 8.5 per cent of annual net Premier League revenue to go on operating costs and “good causes” including the FA
  • From the remainder, 25 per cent of all combined Premier League and Football League revenues to go to the EFL clubs
  • Six per cent of Premier League gross revenues to pay for stadium improvements across the top four divisions, calculated at £100 per seat
  • New rules for the distribution of Premier League television income, overseas and domestic, including proposals that base one portion on performance over three years in the league
  • The abolition of the League Cup and the Community Shield
  • 24 clubs each in the Championship, League One and League Two reducing the professional game overall from 92 clubs to 90
  • A women's professional league independent of the Premier League or the FA
  • Two sides automatically relegated from the Premier League every season and the top two Championship teams promoted. The 16th place Premier League club in a play-off tournament with the Championship’s third, fourth and fifth placed teams.
  • Financial fair play regulations in line with Uefa, and full access for Premier League executive to club accounts
  • A fan charter including capping of away tickets at £20, away travel subsidised, a focus on a return to safe standing, a minimum away allocation of eight per cent capacity
  • Later Premier League start in August to give greater scope for pre-season friendlies, and requirement for all clubs to compete once every five years in a summer Premier League tournament
  • Huge changes to loan system allowing clubs to have 15 players out on loan domestically at any one time and up to four at a single club in England

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A focus on a return to safe standing is a long way down that list, but, if true, immensely contentious if accurate it’s something LFC are involved in driving.

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8 minutes ago, AngryofTuebrook said:

Only read a few lines before thinking "fuck that shit". 

 

Is it "Project Big Clubs Hogging Big Money" or what?

It's exactly what we're seeing all over the economy as a consequence of covid. The weakest will struggle and the richest are planning to get richer on the back of it. 

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9 minutes ago, AngryofTuebrook said:

Only read a few lines before thinking "fuck that shit". 

 

Is it "Project Big Clubs Hogging Big Money" or what?

You read one proposition and think 'fuck that' then the next one is 'that's not a bad idea' the proverbial shit sandwich with some good stuck between horrendous shit. Shameful stuff.

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Been saying for ages PL clubs shouldnt be playing in the EFL Cup and the 3rd EFL club that wins the Championship play off between the other teams, should play the 3rd bottom club in the PL in a one off play off.

 

The Community Shield is probably better replaced by the PL making a regular commensurate donation to the cause.

 

Reducing the PL to 18 clubs has been talked about for ages and I dont really have a problem with that. Id really like to see the PL in association with others put a stop to or reduce the international calender. Either than or make it clubs only release players for World Cup or UEFA competitive games, not friendlies and the 'Nations League.'

 

Bit of unease about a handful of big clubs having more of a say but conversely, a number of smaller clubs can thwart real change for the better. And, if the safety net of the longest continuous time in the PL is a qualifier, it could see a couple of clubs drop out if they are relegated and another take their place.

 

The loan scheme needs to be massively revised. PL clubs should only be allowed to loan out a maximum number of U23 players and no incoming loans to give a short term boost to squads except in emergencies. Clubs should be banned from signing a player then immediately loaning the player to another club. Personally, Id scrap the loan scheme for all but emergencies but I cannot see the clubs doing that.

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1 minute ago, dockers_strike said:

Been saying for ages PL clubs shouldnt be playing in the EFL Cup and the 3rd EFL club that wins the Championship play off between the other teams, should play the 3rd bottom club in the PL in a one off play off.

 

The Community Shield is probably better replaced by the PL making a regular commensurate donation to the cause.

 

Reducing the PL to 18 clubs has been talked about for ages and I dont really have a problem with that. Id really like to see the PL in association with others put a stop to or reduce the international calender. Either than or make it clubs only release players for World Cup or UEFA competitive games, not friendlies and the 'Nations League.'

 

Bit of unease about a handful of big clubs having more of a say but conversely, a number of smaller clubs can thwart real change for the better. And, if the safety net of the longest continuous time in the PL is a qualifier, it could see a couple of clubs drop out if they are relegated and another take their place.

 

The loan scheme needs to be massively revised. PL clubs should only be allowed to loan out a maximum number of U23 players and no incoming loans to give a short term boost to squads except in emergencies. Clubs should be banned from signing a player then immediately loaning the player to another club. Personally, Id scrap the loan scheme for all but emergencies but I cannot see the clubs doing that.

No way should the elite clubs run the game at the cost of the other teams. Fuck that. We are already seeing how bad that is.

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Not arsed what they get up to football sold it’s soul years ago and this is just another step in the rich get richer  and the fans get shat on .

Besides we’ve won the league now and another thing the way rival fans and certain clubs behaved in their own vested interest to try and deny us that deserved title then fuck em .


 

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They should just have cancelled the game entirely when we were reigning English, European and World Champions. 

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44 minutes ago, luxury_scruff said:

Huge changes to loan system allowing clubs to have 15 players out on loan domestically at any one time and up to four at a single club in England 

 

This bit in particular is an utter fucking disgrace and the exact opposite of what should be happening.

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Just now, DaveT said:

Do you think 15 is too many or too few? Chelsea have 29 players out on loan this season. https://www.squawka.com/en/chelsea-loanees-2020-21-season-clubs/

I was just about to say the same! 15 seems a massive reduction for some and maybe helps stop the secondary business of just buying players that you never intend to use and then just flog down the line to help flatter ffp because from a P&L perspective selling cheaply bought young players after 4 years of an initially 5 year contract is almost all profit. 

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A few good suggestions but this just seems to be a way for the big boys to hold more power over the rest of the league. Why should Man City get a deciding vote but not Newcastle, if they are claiming "longstanding clubs" should have a veto? City have been relegated multiple times over the past 20 years, they've hardly been a permanent presence in the Premier League.

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1 hour ago, luxury_scruff said:

World exclusive: Man Utd and Liverpool driving 'Project Big Picture' - football’s biggest shake-up in a generation

18-team Premier League, increased EFL funding and axing of League Cup among raft of proposals in 'Revitalisation' document seen by Telegraph

By Sam Wallace, Chief Football Writer11 October 2020 • 11:45am
 

Manchester United and Liverpool are the driving force behind the biggest changes to English football in a generation and an extraordinary overhaul of the Premier League, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

The two clubs have worked together on a radical set of proposals – called “Project Big Picture” - that will reshape the finances of the game. The Premier League, the most lucrative sports league in the world, would see a reduction to 18 teams, and controlling power in the hands of the biggest clubs.

In return for tearing up many of the rules that have governed the game since the Premier League’s inception in 1992 there will be £250 million rescue package to the Football League to see them through the Covid crisis.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal the details of the working document “Revitalisation” authored by Liverpool’s American ownership Fenway Sports Group with support from United. It anticipates the backing of the other members of the so-called big six, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

In a remarkable set of proposals, which will send shockwaves through the game, 25 per cent of the Premier League’s annual revenue will go to the EFL clubs with £250 million paid up front to see them through the current crisis. There would also be a gift of £100 million to sustain the Football Association.

However, there would be an abolition of the one-club, one-vote principle that has sustained the Premier League since its inception as well as the abolition of the threshold of 14 votes to pass any decision or regulation change.

 

Under the new proposals, the League Cup and the Community Shield would be abolished. There have been additional discussions that the League Cup would survive but without the participation of the clubs in Europe.

There would be two automatic promotion places for Championship clubs, but the third, fourth and fifth placed clubs would be in a play-off tournament with the 16th placed Premier League club.

The nine clubs who have been in the Premier League for the longest - which includes the big six - would dictate its running in every aspect and would be free to play more games in the expanded Champions League that is anticipated from the 2024-2025 season onwards.

As well as the Premier League dropping from 20 clubs to 18, there would be 24 in each of the Championship, League One and League Two making a total of 90.

The plan is supported by the EFL chairman Rick Parry who has held talks with Liverpool’s principal owner, the American investor John W Henry, and shareholder and director Mike Gordon. In addition, Parry has spoken to the Glazer family, who own United.

 

The talks began in 2017 but have been accelerated since the coronavirus pandemic has thrust football into the grip of crisis with no fans in stadiums until March at the earliest. Liverpool and United are prepared for a fierce debate over their proposals but they want them implemented as soon as possible.

The Revitalisation document calls for immediate action to cut dramatically what it calls the “revenue chasm” in earnings from television contracts between the Premier League and the EFL. In order to discourage Championship clubs from gambling recklessly on promotion, the parachute payments system would be abolished in favour of the 25 per cent share of Premier League revenue being shared more equitably among EFL clubs.

Under proposals for the new model of distribution of television revenue in the Premier League, Fenway, the driving force behind the document, insist there would be no greater share for the top six. Their stated aim is to eliminate the huge gap in earnings between Premier League and EFL clubs while in return having a greater control of the decisions made by the Premier League.

 

The document says: “A reset of the economics and governance of the English football pyramid is long overdue”.

The proposals also rewrite the Premier League’s 20-club democracy in favour of placing huge power in the hands of the nine clubs with the longest continual stay in the division. As things stand that is the big six, as well as Everton, Southampton and West Ham. Those nine clubs afforded “long-term shareholder status” would have unprecedented power, with the votes of just six of them required to make sweeping changes. These clubs would even be able to veto a new owner taking over a rival club.

 

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, Parry said that he had the support of many of his 72 members, many currently facing financial ruin, to go ahead with the plan. He said: “What do we do? Leave it exactly as it is and allow the smaller clubs to wither? Or do we do something about it? And you can’t do something about it without something changing. And the view of our clubs is if the [big] six get some benefits but the 72 also do, we are up for it.”

He accepted there would be opposition from the Premier League clubs outside the big six who would see it as detrimental to their financial prospects with less money and two fewer places in the top flight.

“It is definitely going to be challenging and it is an enormous change so that won’t be without some pain,” Parry said: “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?”

The proposals include:

  • £250 million immediately to the EFL to compensate its clubs for lost matchday revenue, deducted from future television revenue earnings and financed by a loan taken out by the Premier League
  • Special status for the nine longest serving clubs – and the vote of only six of those “long-term shareholders” required to make major changes, including amending rules and regulations, agreeing contracts, removal of the chief executive, and a wide-ranging veto including on club ownership
  • Premier League to go to 18 clubs from 20
  • £100 million one-off gift to the FA to cover its coronavirus losses, the non-league game, the women’s game, the grassroots
  • 8.5 per cent of annual net Premier League revenue to go on operating costs and “good causes” including the FA
  • From the remainder, 25 per cent of all combined Premier League and Football League revenues to go to the EFL clubs
  • Six per cent of Premier League gross revenues to pay for stadium improvements across the top four divisions, calculated at £100 per seat
  • New rules for the distribution of Premier League television income, overseas and domestic, including proposals that base one portion on performance over three years in the league
  • The abolition of the League Cup and the Community Shield
  • 24 clubs each in the Championship, League One and League Two reducing the professional game overall from 92 clubs to 90
  • A women's professional league independent of the Premier League or the FA
  • Two sides automatically relegated from the Premier League every season and the top two Championship teams promoted. The 16th place Premier League club in a play-off tournament with the Championship’s third, fourth and fifth placed teams.
  • Financial fair play regulations in line with Uefa, and full access for Premier League executive to club accounts
  • A fan charter including capping of away tickets at £20, away travel subsidised, a focus on a return to safe standing, a minimum away allocation of eight per cent capacity
  • Later Premier League start in August to give greater scope for pre-season friendlies, and requirement for all clubs to compete once every five years in a summer Premier League tournament
  • Huge changes to loan system allowing clubs to have 15 players out on loan domestically at any one time and up to four at a single club in England

Modern-day football is rubbish.

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I'm not sure what the issues are with this. Maybe I'm being a bit thick.

 

I like the sound of almost every part of that proposal and I'm happy to be shot down so long as there's a clear argument against whichever one you don't like.

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lots of amenable suggestions but the big thing is the 'power grab' by the big 6, that provision basically allows them to control all future major decisions as well the ability to veto any new ownership. Increased pre-season means more summer tours as well as reduction of league/efl cup games allows them to take part in expanded champions league for more money. Can't see this going down well with a lot of people and I can see why. 

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1 hour ago, Barrington Womble said:

I was just about to say the same! 15 seems a massive reduction for some and maybe helps stop the secondary business of just buying players that you never intend to use and then just flog down the line to help flatter ffp because from a P&L perspective selling cheaply bought young players after 4 years of an initially 5 year contract is almost all profit. 

Exactly. Chelsea have created a healthy revenue stream by acquiring and later loaning, then selling young talent. And it was their dodgy methods in acquiring that young talent that led to their transfer ban...... something the media chose to overlook whilst painting Fwank as a victim of some official persecution. 
My interpretation is that this measure plus the reference to FFP/access to club accounts is FSG’s shot across the bows of Chelsea and City.

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This is essentially when someone’s on the verge of going bust in Monopoly and you offer them way less for their best properties than they’re worth as their only hope of survival.

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41 minutes ago, m0e said:

I'm not sure what the issues are with this. Maybe I'm being a bit thick.

 

I like the sound of almost every part of that proposal and I'm happy to be shot down so long as there's a clear argument against whichever one you don't like.

It's the footballing equivalent of what happened in Russia after the break up of the Soviet Union though isn't it? All the staff were given shares in the company when they stopped being state owned, but then cunts like abramovic chose not to pay them, instead offering to buy their shares off them so they had money to put food on the table. I'm sure those guys would have been really glad of the money at the time, but it was just a power play and get rich quick scheme by abramovic (and others like him).

 

Here the rich clubs who've been frustrated from getting even richer year by year by having to support the pyramid (including the bottom half and yo-yo clubs), will then be able to do what the fuck they like going forward as long as it's in the interests of the majority of rich clubs. What was it Ayre said, nobody is paying to watch Stoke city?

 

So now it feels all nice and cuddly. The football league get to survive, the fa gets a hand out to keep quiet and the premier league big clubs get to play 18 games a season and no league cup. But that's not to play less games is it? It's not to improve the quality for the fans. To protect the interests of over worked players? It's already in that proposal, it's to play more high value games even if they're meaningless friendlies. 

 

It's an inevitable step imo and would have come about at some point down the line, but it's another example of the opportunism of the top of the game. It's probably very good for the owners of LFC, MUFC and others, I don't see how football as a game in this country at least benefits from it aside from perhaps getting us through this immediate danger and live another day. 

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