Project Big Picture is DEAD: Premier League clubs REJECT the Man United and Liverpool-led plan but agree to a full review of the competition’s future – and announce a £77m bailout for Leagues One and Two but NOT the Championship

  • Premier League clubs rejected the Project Big Picture proposals in a meeting
  • Top-flight clubs met virtually on Wednesday to discuss the radical proposals
  • The plans would see more funding for EFL clubs and competitions scrapped
  • But the clamour for the ‘Big Six’ to have more power angered top-flight clubs 
  • Instead all 20 clubs agreed to a strategy review and another EFL bailout offer
  • Premier League clubs will hand struggling teams in Leagues One and Two £77m 

Project Big Picture is dead after Premier League clubs rejected proposals put to them by Manchester United and Liverpool during an emergency meeting on Wednesday. 

The top flight met to discuss the radical plans for a shake up of English football for the first time via video conference.

But the 20 clubs swiftly rejected the proposals and instead agreed to a widespread strategy review and also gave the green light to a new bailout offer to the EFL after their opening attempt was rejected.  

Premier League clubs have rejected Project Big Picture plans during Wednesday’s meeting


Liverpool’s John W Henry (L) and Manchester United’s Joel Glazer (R) were behind the plans

The new EFL bailout offer, worth £77million in total, will include an option for the funding only to go to the League One and League Two clubs but Championship teams can veto that.

Liverpool and Manchester United, as well as EFL chairman Rick Parry, wanted a radical restructure of English football that would have led to increased funding for the EFL, a reduction of top-flight clubs from 20 to 18 and scrapping the Carabao Cup among other things.  

But the proposal also outlined how the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ would acquire more power in decision-making and that caused anger within the top flight and other levels of the football pyramid.

During a two-hour meeting on Wednesday, the proposals were quickly thrown out. 

A Premier League statement, signed off by all 20 clubs, read: ‘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.

‘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. 

‘Also at today’s meeting it was agreed to make available a rescue package which aims to ensure that League One and League Two clubs will not go out of business as a result of the financial impact of COVID-19 and be able to complete the 2020/21 season.

‘League One and League Two clubs rely more heavily on matchday revenue and have fewer resources at their disposal than Championship or Premier League clubs and are therefore more at risk, especially at a time when fans are excluded from attending matches. 

The Premier League did agree to make another bailout offer to clubs in League One and Two 

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said a rescue package was a condition of Project Restart

‘This offer will consist of grants and interest-free loans totalling a further £50million on top of the £27.2million solidarity payments already advanced to League One and League Two this year, making a total of £77.2million.’ 

The EFL rejected the Premier League’s initial £150million rescue package – a £40m grant and £110m loan dependent on a series of conditions.

The lower divisions would have had to give top-flight clubs control of the calendar, their spending levels and post-Brexit work-permit arrangements, as well as scrapping the League Cup and accepting there will be no promotion from the Championship in the event of curtailment unless 75 per cent of fixtures have been completed.

The EFL have been seeking a bailout from the Premier League to help them cope with the Covid-19 crisis since May, when a rescue package was made mandatory if the Government was to support Project Restart. 

Parry has made it clear the lower divisions need £250m to ensure all the clubs can keep paying their players and therefore playing matches in the absence of gate receipts this season.  

The rejection of Project Big Picture comes as a huge blow to Manchester United and Liverpool though.

It is thought the rejection kills the plans instantly with a strategy review involving all 20 Premier League clubs to take place soon.

Premier League clubs were unhappy that EFL chief Rick Parry held talks with top-flight clubs 

It is claimed the meeting was ‘civilised’ and at least 14 of the 20 top-flight clubs were opposed to Project Big Picture.  

It emerged on Tuesday night that EFL clubs were split over whether to support the plan with meetings of the three divisions on Tuesday ending without a firm agreement. 

As reported by Sportsmail, Championship clubs are understood to have offered chairman Parry their support while clubs in League One and League Two were far more critical of the proposals.

There were fears the Premier League’s clear anger at Parry’s involvement in secret talks with Liverpool and Manchester United could have scuppered the bailout they are seeking to survive for the rest of the season.

As many as seven clubs in League One and Two need extra funding to ensure they can pay all their players this month so are wary of further antagonising the Premier League.    

PROJECT BIG PICTURE PROPOSALS

  • The Premier League will be cut from 20 to 18 teams, with the Championship, League One and League Two all keeping their usual 24 clubs.
  • Nine ‘long term shareholders’ will be given the power and have special voting rights on all sorts of issues in the Premier League, including rule changes, who becomes chief executive, and even if a new owner can take over at another club.
  • A £350million rescue fund will be made immediately available to the EFL and Football Association for lost revenues for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.
  • The League Cup and the Community Shield will be completely abolished.
  • Parachute payments will be scrapped and instead, 25 per cent of Premier League revenue will be distributed to the EFL.
  • Promotion play-offs brought in, involving 16th-placed team in the Premier League, and 3rd, 4th and 5th in the Championship.
  • Funding will be provided to set up a new and independent women’s league.
  • Season to start later and pre-season friendlies extended.




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