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Reports: Liverpool and Manchester United lead Premier League's Project Big Picture initiative to help EFL clubs amidst COVID-19

Liverpool's principal owner John W Henry
Sai Teja
Modified 12 Oct 2020, 00:10 IST

Manchester United and Liverpool are said to be the 'driving force' behind a set of extraordinary changes to the Premier League, as per a massive exclusive from English outlet The Telegraph.

The two English heavyweights — the two most decorated clubs on the land — have reportedly proposed several radical changes to the structure of English football, which could be the most monumental changes since the turn of the century.

The alterations have been drawn up by Liverpool's owners, Fenway Sports Group, and have been backed up by those of Manchester United as part of a proposal called 'Project Big Picture'.

Some of the changes include a change the Premier League's voting structure, funding models for the English Football League and Football Association, and most interestingly, a reduction of the number of clubs in the Premier League from 20 to 18.

Project Big Picture: Major changes proposed by Premier League clubs Manchester United and Liverpool

Manchester United chief Ed Woodward
Manchester United chief Ed Woodward

The two clubs have proposed several changes to the structure of the league and English football as we know it. There are several pros and cons to these changes, the most important of which is the support that the EFL clubs will receive.

England's second-tier and other clubs have faced damaging repercussions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Due to these financial crises, Project Big Picture states that 25% of the combined revenue earned by both the Premier League and the EFL will go to the EFL clubs. Additionally, they will be given an advance of a staggering £250m to ease their financial burden amidst COVID-19, and a "one-off gift to the FA" of £100m to cover their COVID-19 losses.

In retrospect, the elite Premier League clubs such as Liverpool and Manchester United have also suggested that nine clubs who have remained in the top-flight for the longest period — including the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, and other top clubs — be given a 'long-term shareholder' status.

The FA Community Shield could be abolished
The FA Community Shield could be abolished

This would demolish the existing structure of one vote per club, and instead, tip the balance of power entirely towards the biggest clubs on the land. A section from Telegraph's exclusive quotes that these Premier League clubs "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."

The proposal also suggests the abolition of the Community Shield — the annual curtain-raiser for the Premier League campaign — and the EFL Cup as well.

Other notable changes proposed by Liverpool and Manchester United's Project Big Picture include those pertaining to the Premier League's loan system, matchday ticket prices, and distribution of television income, among others.

Rick Parry (L), chairman of the EFL
Rick Parry (L), chairman of the EFL

EFL chairman Rick Parry has been vocal of his support for Project Big Picture. Speaking on the proposed changes in an exclusive with The Telegraph, Parry 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."

The Englishman added,

"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?"

It remains to be seen if the set of proposed changes will be accepted, and if the project does go through. Should it eventually happen, it will undoubtedly be the most monumental reset to the very structure of English football, albeit at the expetipping the scales of power heavily in favour of the Premier League's wealthiest clubs.

Published 11 Oct 2020, 23:56 IST
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