PROJECT Big Picture has caught the attention of football fans this past week, as the English Football League (EFL) supported the proposals made by Manchester United and Liverpool.
EFL chief executive Rick Parry backed the scheme, which will see greater funding by the Premier League (PL) to EFL clubs, while giving increased power to the ‘big six’ clubs.
The proposal is for Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Everton, West Ham and Southampton to be given ‘special voting rights’, meaning they can make decisions without the other member-clubs.
Crucially, only six votes are needed to pass legislation, including the ratification of club takeovers, TV contracts and whether to hire or fire a new PL chief executive.
In return for this power, the PL will give the EFL 25% of the TV revenue that it makes, and reduce the number of PL teams from 20 to 18.
Project Big Picture also calls for the abolition of the League Cup and Community Shield – two staples of the English football schedule.
SR News asked former Sunderland and Premier League player Danny Collins for his view on the radical proposal.
He said: “I think that the top clubs are going to be using this as a chance to grab real power over the way football is run in this country and, essentially, control the game.
“Would the big clubs be willing to accept a financial takeover from a billionaire now if it means that there is another big hitter in the league? I don’t think it is fair to let a few clubs decide the fate of football going forward.”
Danny may not agree with this proposal, but he recognised that change needs to happen to make football financially viable long-term.
He said: “There is a need for action, as we are seeing more and more clubs hit financial difficulty.
“A lot of teams in League One and League Two will really struggle without fans, so it will benefit them, so I can see both sides of the argument.”
As for Sunderland, Danny believes that if Project Big Picture goes ahead, it could result in the Black Cats being stuck outside the Premier League for a long time to come.
He said: “I do think that reducing the size of the Premier League, and the fact that only two teams are guaranteed promotion from the Championship, means that it’ll be harder to get back in the league.
“A lot of big clubs have been in League One, including current Premier League sides Wolves, Sheffield United, Leeds, Southampton and Manchester City.
“Sunderland could well be victims of being at this level at the wrong time, because it will be really hard to get back in the Premier League if this project is realised.”
As a former player who has played up and down the pyramid until retiring in 2019, Danny believes there is a growing chasm between the divisions.
Would a fairer ‘trickle-down’ system level the playing field?
“I think the divide between the Premier League and the rest has been growing more and more. The wage cap in League One is set at £2.5m, but the Championship currently doesn’t have one,” he said.
“Then the Premier League clubs have hundreds of millions given to them every season – so there has been a growing disparity between the haves and have-nots over recent years.
“The benefits of the money trickling down means that the quality of those leagues will improve and therefore means that we will help develop players more effectively.
“That will greatly benefit the bigger clubs, because most top English players have played in the EFL at some stage.
“If you look at my career, I came from Chester City in League Two and signed for Sunderland and ended up playing nearly 100 Premier League games. It is imperative that the Premier League supports the EFL.
“The only negative from this project is that you are giving the power to the big clubs to help make the rest of football sustainable.
“I do worry about that and whether it means that no team will be able to infiltrate the Premier League’s elite again.”
What do you make of Project Big Picture?