Top Premier League clubs are using the financial instability caused by the coronavirus pandemic to put themselves at the heart of their own totalitarian power structure. We know the list of proposals that would reshape English football as Project Big Picture. Sam Broad explains the idea behind it and what it would mean for the shake-up of the English footballing pyramid.
What would Project Big Picture involve?
Manchester United and Liverpool were the main perpetrators that put forward the reform plans that would transform the Premier League’s voting system. The change would mean only nine of the league’s oldest teams become the instigators. With only six votes needed to pass a decision. Unsurprisingly, the big six become the decision-makers.
This allows the top Premier League clubs to plan their desires. With no thought spared to the Premier League clubs, who aren’t fortunate enough to share the same magnitude of wealth. The current one vote per club system comes across more ethically. It makes the Premier League more democratic and takes some emphasis off the big six.
Project Big Picture also has the aim to reduce the size of the league down to 18 teams. A smaller league only benefits those clubs who don’t fear dropping to the Championship. Alongside the dismantling of the League Cup, it is clear the big six see the future of the game through the lens of European competitions.
No matter the reputation of the League Cup, it still provides a financial incentive for teams at the bottom of the football pyramid to be ambitious in cup competitions. It is clear the League Cup doesn’t provide many thrills for clubs who have already qualified for European competitions. This is clear by the weakened teams produced by many Premier League clubs for League Cup fixtures. The attempt to abolish the League Cup in the Project Big Picture reform plans is another example of the big six trying to engineer domestic competitions to suit their pursuit of European glory.
Would Project Big Picture help the EFL?
Project Big Picture would provide financial security for clubs in the English Football League. A payment of £250 million would be paid initially, supposedly to cover the money lost by lower league clubs because of the coronavirus pandemic. On top of this, 25% of the Premier League’s annual income would be shared among the many clubs within the EFL. While this seems an appetising opportunity for financially stricken clubs at the bottom of the football pyramid. It stifles ambitious Championship clubs, who don’t need the same support that a League 2 side needs.
Under Project Big Picture, there will no longer be any parachute payments for clubs relegated from the Premier League. They would relegate the bottom two teams from the Premier League. Yet the 16th placed team would join the Championship playoffs. With one last chance at survival, effectively rewarding a team for finishing in the bottom three.
Why Project Big Picture is not the way forward?
The proposals display a certain message to those clubs with Premier League football as their sole target. The Premier League is edging towards a closed system. They are discouraging EFL clubs from even attempting to dream of Premier League status. The whole point of professional football is to compete at the highest level possible, to be ambitious. The proposal put forward doesn’t align with the ideals of football. It just serves as security for the top Premier League clubs.
The Premier League may offer some of their spare income to the EFL. However, their actions in the last week have shown they have become fully accustomed to taking advantage of a financially insecure situation. Whether it be at the expense of loyal fans or EFL clubs, the Premier League big six will invent a variety of ways in which they can guarantee their domination over the football pyramid for the long-term future.
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