English football giants Liverpool and Manchester United are driving plans to reshape the finances of the game in England while giving greater controlling power to a handful of elite clubs.
The two traditionally bitter rivals from the North West of England have worked together on a radical set of proposals – formally known as “Project Big Picture” , the Daily Telegraph reports.
Key changes envisaged under the plan include the Premier League being reduced to 18 teams from 20 currently. This would free up the calendar and, with fewer teams and reduce the number of matches played from 38 to 34. The Championship, League One and League Two would then be enlarged to contain 24 clubs
To get the lower division clubs onboard with the proposals, there will be a £250 million rescue package on offer to the Football League to see them through the Covid crisis, says the outlet.
The plans are included in a document entitled “Revitalisation” which has been authored by Liverpool’s American owners Fenway Sports Group with the support of Manchester United. The document reportedly anticipates the backing of the other members of the so-called big six, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.
Project Big Picture would also involve the Premier League agreeing to give 25 percent of its future TV deals to second-tier EFL clubs and bringing an end to parachute payments that have traditionally been paid to relegated clubs. It would also see Championship playoffs including the sixteenth placed Premier League side, who would compete to stay up against three promotion hopefuls from the second tier.
In return for this largesse, the current voting structure of the Premier League would be rejigged to give greater clout to the bigger clubs. Instead of one club, one vote, and a majority of 14 being required to pass any change in rules, a new system would give extra power to clubs with “long-term shareholder status”, in effect the nine longest-serving teams in the league.
That group is currently comprised of the big six, along with Everton, Southampton and West Ham United. Under the plans it would require only six ‘long-term shareholder’ votes to approve any changes in Premier League rules, effectively cementing the power of the richest, most-established clubs.
Other proposed changes are reported by The Telegraph to include the scrapping of the League Cup and Community Shield, and the launch of a new ‘Premier League summer tournament’.