What is Project Big Picture? How will it affect Premier League and EFL clubs?

The DW StadiumThe DW Stadium
The DW Stadium
Football supporters in England were stunned at reports revealing some Premier League clubs are set to suggest radical overhauls of both the finances and the power structure of the national game.

Here, we take a look at “Project Big Picture” in its entirety - and what it could mean for the Premier League and EFL.

What is being proposed in Project Big Picture and what could it mean?

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Project Big Picture, devised by Liverpool and Manchester United, advocates fundamental reform of the game - and would change football as we know it.

The plans would see “big” clubs control the running of the top flight in return for redistributing greater funding down the football pyramid.

EFL chairman Rick Parry has publicly endorsed the change which would involve Football League clubs taking 25% of future Premier League deals.

That would see an end to parachute payments.

These changes would be accompanied by further reforms shrinking the Premier League to 18 places, with the nine longest-serving top-flight clubs given preferential votes.

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There would only be two automatic promotion places from the Championship with the third, fourth and fifth-placed teams entering a play-off with the side that finishes 16th in the Premier League.

It is also being proposed that the 60-year old League Cup, and the Community Shield, are scrapped.

How would Project Big Picture distribute wealth further down the pyramid?

Under the new proposals, the Premier League would grant the EFL an advanced £250m bailout.

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That would mean the EFL would collectively negotiate its broadcast deals with the Premier League going forward

A further £100m would also be given to the FA, £55m of it to cover some of the governing body’s losses during the pandemic

Once running costs were taken out, the EFL would then take a quarter share of future broadcasting revenues.

In return, the top flight’s “long-term shareholders” would be afforded voting rights which would enable any six of them to pass and veto certain new rules.

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This, according to the EFL, would include the ability to approve TV deals and enforce changes to “cost control rules and regulations”.

The clubs could also veto proposed new club owners and prevent changes to the current distribution of broadcast revenues.

Which teams would currently count as long-term shareholders?

Unsurprisingly, Manchester United and Liverpool would become part of a new-look elite, having played in the Premier League since its inception.

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Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton have also managed to remain in the Premier League since its 1992 beginning and would form part of the long-term shareholders.

Manchester City Southampton and West Ham would complete the nine as the three longest-serving Premier League teams outside of the ‘big six’.

Are Premier League and EFL clubs in agreement over Project Big Picture?

Several reports suggest as many of 14 of the 20 top-flight clubs were unaware of Project Big Picture before it was leaked to the Daily Telegraph.

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Moreover, the league said the plan could have “a damaging impact on the whole game” and called for it to be discussed via “the proper channels”.

There is also a feeling of disappointment from the majority of the Premier League with Parry’s public involvement in the plan – leaving many angry at the actions of the EFL chairman.

However, a number of EFL clubs are said to be behind the initiative which could create conflict moving forward.

What is the government saying about Project Big Picture?

For months, the Premier League, EFL and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have been in negotiations for months over a potential £250m bailout of the structure following the financial impact of Covid-19 on football clubs.

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Indeed, a government spokesman on Sunday described Project Big Picture as a “backroom deal” that would “create a closed shop at the very top of the game”.

What does EFL chairman Rick Parry have to say in defence of the proposal?

“Project Big Picture provides a new beginning which will revitalise the football pyramid at all levels,” Parry said in defence of the plan.

“This new beginning will reinvigorate clubs in the lower leagues and the communities in which they are based.

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“This is about building on what is good and making the most of what works well in order to benefit the game as a whole, while simultaneously tackling those issues which trouble all of us.

“This is a blueprint for the future of English football and for everyone who cherishes it.”

Responding to the government’s intervention, Parry said: “The merits of the idea still shine through.

“It is absolutely about saving the pyramid. So I frankly find it really difficult to reconcile our thoughts on this with the government’s position. But it’s not going to deter us.”