Liverpool and Manchester United have been forced into an embarrassing climbdown over their push to reform English football after a tense meeting of the Premier League’s 20 clubs on Wednesday.
Together with the EFL chairman, Rick Parry, Liverpool and United have pushed Project Big Picture – a plan that proposed a £250m bailout for the EFL and a more equitable share of the game’s broadcast money in exchange for the Premier League’s big six clubs being granted overwhelming voting control on a number of important points.
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The idea has divided the top division, with the 14 other clubs believed to be strongly against the change in governance – with the league and the Football Association sharing their view. At Wednesday’s virtual conference call, the Premier League chairman, Gary Hoffman, called for unity after an unedifying week and the Everton chief executive, Denise Barrett-Baxendale, demanded an apology from Liverpool and United, who were represented by Tom Werner and Ed Woodward, club chairman and executive vice-chairman, respectively.
Werner and Woodward refused, feeling that they had nothing to apologise for. They claimed to have merely been discussing a list of ideas, to have been brainstorming some forward-planning, and it was unfortunate that they had leaked into the public domain. This led to incredulity in some quarters.
The major conclusion of the get-together, which had been convened at short notice, was that the 20 clubs unanimously agreed to work together on a strategic reform programme for the game and, significantly, not to endorse Project Big Picture. In other words, Liverpool and United had to give their blessing to work as a part of the existing collective and to say that PBP was not something that could be construed as coming from the league or its clubs.
The clubs also agreed to offer the EFL a bailout but on far less generous terms than the £250m being sought. A combined £50m will be offered to League One and Two clubs, with almost two-thirds of that for teams in League One, and Championship clubs will be offered access to loans.
“All 20 Premier League clubs today unanimously agreed that Project Big Picture will not be endorsed or pursued by the Premier League, or the FA,” the league said in a statement.
“Further, Premier League shareholders agreed to work together as a 20-club collective on a strategic plan for the future structures and financing of English football, consulting with all stakeholders to ensure a vibrant, competitive and sustainable football pyramid.”
Good. Glad the other 14 clubs stood up to them. Embarrassing episode of greed.
And glad to see money going down to League One and League Two and, quite rightly in my view, loans for Championship clubs - just like a lot of businesses up and down the country have had to take loans.
Think that's a sensible outcome all around