The Premier League has announced that England’s 20 top-flight clubs will not ‘endorse or pursue’ reform proposals advanced by Manchester United and Liverpool under the title ‘Project Big Picture’. Despite an official statement declaring the decision to be unanimous, it is said to have followed a “tense meeting” of club representatives on Wednesday, at which Everton chief exec Denise Barrett-Baxendale is said to have demanded an apology from Ed Woodward and his Liverpool counterparts.
The ‘Project Big Picture’ proposals included the shrinking of the Premier League to 18 teams; the abolition of the League Cup and Community Shield; the ending of parachute payments for relegated sides; and a £250 million rescue deal to be made immediately available to clubs in the Football League. Such concessions were to be exchanged for an enhancement of the decision-making powers of the country’s biggest clubs, who were to be given “special voting rights ... based on their extended runs in the Premier League”. The proposals were rejected amid fears that this would open the door to future shake-ups designed to benefit the most powerful clubs, including the eventual admittance of ‘B teams’ into the Football League.
Despite the knockback, the Premier League statement affirmed that clubs would continue to work towards a “strategic plan for the future structures and financing of English football”, and confirmed that its members would make available a rescue package for clubs in Leagues One and Two struggling with the economic damage wrought by coronavirus. This, however, only stretches to £50 million on top of customary solidarity payments — a significantly smaller sum than that proposed on the terms of ‘Project Big Picture’.