⚽ :pl: Project Big Picture - The Restructuring of English Football

World exclusive: Man Utd and Liverpool driving ‘Project Big Picture’ - football’s biggest shake-up in a generation

18-team Premier League, increased EFL funding and axing of League Cup among raft of proposals in ‘Revitalisation’ document seen by Telegraph

By Sam Wallace, CHIEF FOOTBALL WRITER11 October 2020 • 11:45am

Manchester United and Liverpool are the driving force behind the biggest changes to English football in a generation and an extraordinary overhaul of the Premier League, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

The two clubs have worked together on a radical set of proposals – called “Project Big Picture” - that will reshape the finances of the game. The Premier League, the most lucrative sports league in the world, would see a reduction to 18 teams, and controlling power in the hands of the biggest clubs.

In return for tearing up many of the rules that have governed the game since the Premier League’s inception in 1992 there will be £250 million rescue package to the Football League to see them through the Covid crisis.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal the details of the working document “Revitalisation” authored by Liverpool’s American ownership Fenway Sports Group with support from United. It anticipates the backing of the other members of the so-called big six, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

In a remarkable set of proposals, which will send shockwaves through the game, 25 per cent of the Premier League’s annual revenue will go to the EFL clubs with £250 million paid up front to see them through the current crisis. There would also be a gift of £100 million to sustain the Football Association.

However, there would be an abolition of the one-club, one-vote principle that has sustained the Premier League since its inception as well as the abolition of the threshold of 14 votes to pass any decision or regulation change.

Under the new proposals, the League Cup and the Community Shield would be abolished. There have been additional discussions that the League Cup would survive but without the participation of the clubs in Europe.

There would be two automatic promotion places for Championship clubs, but the third, fourth and fifth placed clubs would be in a play-off tournament with the 16th placed Premier League club.

The nine clubs who have been in the Premier League for the longest - which includes the big six - would dictate its running in every aspect and would be free to play more games in the expanded Champions League that is anticipated from the 2024-2025 season onwards.

As well as the Premier League dropping from 20 clubs to 18, there would be 24 in each of the Championship, League One and League Two making a total of 90.

The plan is supported by the EFL chairman Rick Parry who has held talks with Liverpool’s principal owner, the American investor John W Henry, and shareholder and director Mike Gordon. In addition, Parry has spoken to the Glazer family, who own United.

The talks began in 2017 but have been accelerated since the coronavirus pandemic has thrust football into the grip of crisis with no fans in stadiums until March at the earliest. Liverpool and United are prepared for a fierce debate over their proposals but they want them implemented as soon as possible.

The Revitalisation document calls for immediate action to cut dramatically what it calls the “revenue chasm” in earnings from television contracts between the Premier League and the EFL. In order to discourage Championship clubs from gambling recklessly on promotion, the parachute payments system would be abolished in favour of the 25 per cent share of Premier League revenue being shared more equitably among EFL clubs.

Under proposals for the new model of distribution of television revenue in the Premier League, Fenway, the driving force behind the document, insist there would be no greater share for the top six. Their stated aim is to eliminate the huge gap in earnings between Premier League and EFL clubs while in return having a greater control of the decisions made by the Premier League.

The document says: “A reset of the economics and governance of the English football pyramid is long overdue”.

The proposals also rewrite the Premier League’s 20-club democracy in favour of placing huge power in the hands of the nine clubs with the longest continual stay in the division. As things stand that is the big six, as well as Everton, Southampton and West Ham. Those nine clubs afforded “long-term shareholder status” 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.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, Parry said that he had the support of many of his 72 members, many currently facing financial ruin, to go ahead with the plan. He 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.”

He accepted there would be opposition from the Premier League clubs outside the big six who would see it as detrimental to their financial prospects with less money and two fewer places in the top flight.

“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?”

The proposals include:

· £250 million immediately to the EFL to compensate its clubs for lost matchday revenue, deducted from future television revenue earnings and financed by a loan taken out by the Premier League

· Special status for the nine longest serving clubs – and the vote of only six of those “long-term shareholders” required to make major changes, including amending rules and regulations, agreeing contracts, removal of the chief executive, and a wide-ranging veto including on club ownership

· Premier League to go to 18 clubs from 20

· £100 million one-off gift to the FA to cover its coronavirus losses, the non-league game, the women’s game, the grassroots

· 8.5 per cent of annual net Premier League revenue to go on operating costs and “good causes” including the FA

· From the remainder, 25 per cent of all combined Premier League and Football League revenues to go to the EFL clubs

· Six per cent of Premier League gross revenues to pay for stadium improvements across the top four divisions, calculated at £100 per seat

· New rules for the distribution of Premier League television income, overseas and domestic, including proposals that base one portion on performance over three years in the league

· The abolition of the League Cup and the Community Shield

· 24 clubs each in the Championship, League One and League Two reducing the professional game overall from 92 clubs to 90

· A women’s professional league independent of the Premier League or the FA

· Two sides automatically relegated from the Premier League every season and the top two Championship teams promoted. The 16th place Premier League club in a play-off tournament with the Championship’s third, fourth and fifth placed teams.

· Financial fair play regulations in line with Uefa, and full access for Premier League executive to club accounts

· A fan charter including capping of away tickets at £20, away travel subsidised, a focus on a return to safe standing, a minimum away allocation of eight per cent capacity

· Later Premier League start in August to give greater scope for pre-season friendlies, and requirement for all clubs to compete once every five years in a summer Premier League tournament

· Huge changes to loan system allowing clubs to have 15 players out on loan domestically at any one time and up to four at a single club in England


Original story, behind a pay wall…

Call me a cynic but it’s funny how this comes out when EFL clubs are strapped for cash & from someone I know at the FA they’d appreciate a good cash injection.

The “top” clubs have been after this for years.

“…It is also planned that, as well as the ‘big six’, ever-present league member Everton, West Ham United and Southampton - ninth and 11th respectively in the list of clubs who have featured in the most Premier League seasons - would be granted special status…”

Phew, we’re in with the “big” clubs. Bring it on…



Yes, we’re in with the big clubs.

And West Ham.



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There was something on the radio that was implying that the big six would have a veto over any proposed takeovers of other clubs

Cant find anything on that - but that has got to be some sort of bullshit, surely

Think this is where it is coming from

So the big six can veto any new nation state / oligarch / billionaire who fancies owning a football club and pumping money in - despite feathering their own nests in that way.

Sounds perfectly fair


Andy Holt owns Accrington Stanley
Very community focused. Fights excess.
He hates it

When I initially read the article I was quite up for it but the more I read and inwardly digest the more I see it as a money grab by the “big 6”.

They want to play less football so they can play more “lucrative” football, i.e. the new, expanded Champions League.

The money to the lower divisions is just a sop and diversionary tactic.

The Americans that run 'pool and United see it as their teams make the PL the most money so why can’t they have a bigger cut of it. It is a very American sport centric attitude.

We’ve all seen the way the Spanish league has gone because each team organises their own rights and how this has lead to dominance by Real Madrid and Barcelona, this is the wat this proposal will go.

Yep - in 10 years time just how much will the 25% of the premier league deal be worth if the European competitions are expanded? Where will Sky put their money?

The lower pyramids will end up being just as fucked. The lower half of the Prem will be royally fucked.

The timing is opportunistic - the lower pyramid is drowning and the big six have the only rubber ring. If feels like an abuse of power to me


I would be quite happy for Liverpool and man u to fuck off to a euro league if that’s where the money is. Hey presto, 18 teams in the prem.


Watched Rick Parry on TV this morning. Paraphrasing of course, but basically he said

Give us 25% of the TV money, which is a ton more than now, and it solves so many issues, that we don’t care about the league Cup, more power to the top 6, the EFL becoming even less important and who cares what fans think, they can do one. It’s a shit load of cash.

My interpretation is as follows:

They are a bunch of cunts.


Some other points

Club media
All Premier League clubs have the exclusive rights to sell eight live matches a season directly to fans via their own digital platforms in all international territories.

All Premier League and Championship clubs allowed to show limited in-match highlights on their own digital platforms.

That is only going to benefit the top clubs

Remove the scholarship clause permitting players to terminate at any stage.

Enabling the big clubs to raid academies with impunity

Two-thirds of the long-term shareholders can cause to be adopted without approval from the other clubs:

contracts for the sale of league broadcasting and media rights

This might be the cash divvy up at the moment but we can change it the minute you sign that contract

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A fucking disgrace, even sadder is our scabby club appears to be involved in this, no club not one is better than another.

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Are we fuck - the 9 to 11 clubs crap is to ensure that they get enough votes to get this through (they need 14 out of 20 to agree) The second they get that, they will flip us the bird and crack on with divvying up the pot between them


This could also be w smokescreen - go large and then roll back the proposals to an extent that you get what you were originally after and it appears a lot more palatable to everyone else

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Where have I said they wouldn’t shit on us (if we are in on it I hope they do as well), why are we getting special rights and for what?
A shithouse scheme for shithouses.