EFL clubs are SPLIT over support for Project Big Picture

EXCLUSIVE: EFL clubs are SPLIT over support for Project Big Picture after meetings involving all 72 sides end without an agreement on controversial plans drawn up by Liverpool and Manchester United

  • Liverpool and Manchester United have drawn up plans for Project Big Picture
  • EFL clubs failed to reach an agreement after meetings were held on Tuesday
  • Championship clubs are understood to be supporting EFL chairman Rick Parry
  • Clubs in League One and League Two are less sure of the radical new proposals
  • The split appears to centre on how desperate clubs are for a rescue package
  • Project Big Picture would give the EFL a £250m bailout, plus extra £700m a year
  • All you need to know about Project Big Picture – including how the FA can veto it 

EFL clubs are split over whether to support Project Big Picture with meetings of the three divisions involving all 72 clubs held today breaking up without a firm agreement. 

While the Championship clubs are understood to have offered chairman Rick Parry their support to continuing his negotiations over a radical restructure to the Premier League that would bring increased funding for the EFL, Sportsmail has learned that clubs in League One and League Two were far more critical of the proposals that have been produced by Liverpool and Manchester United.

A number of clubs expressed concern that the Premier League’s clear anger at Parry’s involvement in secret talks with Liverpool and Manchester United could jeopardise the bailout they are seeking to survive for the rest of the season, a widespread fear reported by Sportsmail on Monday. 

EFL chairman Rick Parry is backing Liverpool and Manchester United’s Project Big Picture 

Clubs in League One and League Two have been more critical of the controversial proposals

Other clubs also voiced unhappiness that they had not been kept informed about the negotiations or talks with investment companies about providing external funding, including an offer from TPG to buy a 20 per cent stake in the EFL for £300million that was rejected last week.

The split in the EFL appears to centre on how desperate clubs are for a rescue package to get through the rest of the season, which has been further jeopardised by Parry’s involvement in clandestine negotiations with Liverpool and United, leading the Premier League to threaten to walk away from the process. 

As many as seven clubs in League One and Two need extra funding to ensure they can pay all their players this month so are wary of further antagonising the Premier League, who have made clear their strong opposition to the Project Big Six Proposals.

Liverpool owner John W Henry (L) and Man United chief Joel Glazer (R) are two of the key figures behind the plans

Project Big Picture would see the number of clubs in the Premier League reduced to just 18 

Only Liverpool and Manchester United have confirmed they will be supporting the plans

The Championship clubs had largely given up hope of receiving money from the Premier League, who view those in the second tier as competitors, so have less to lose and are therefore willing to support Parry’s continued liaison with the Big Six. 

There is also genuine excitement in the second tier about what Parry has described as a ‘financial reset’ to reduce the gap between the Premier League and the lower divisions, which if introduced would include an immediate rescue package of £250m to offset the loss of gate receipts during the pandemic, as well as a pledge of a 25 per cent share in the top flight’s next television rights contract, estimated to be worth around £700m-a-year to the EFL.

In a separate development, FA chairman Greg Clarke has written to the FA Council ahead of a meeting on Wednesday to clarify the governing body’s position. 

While the FA have specific concerns about plans to abolish the Community Shield in particular, Clarke will tell Council members that they will not come to a firm view until a package of reforms has been agreed by the Premier League.

Liverpool and Manchester United want to radically restructure the top-flight of English football

Jurgen Klopp’s side cruised to the Premier League title last season after a 30-year wait

The main changes being proposed in Project Big Picture are:

  • The Premier League will be cut from 20 to 18 teams, with the Championship, League One and League Two all keeping their usual 24 clubs.
  • Nine ‘long term shareholders’ will be given the power and have special voting rights on all sorts of issues in the Premier League, including rule changes, who becomes chief executive, and even if a new owner can take over at another club.
  • A £350million rescue fund will be made immediately available to the EFL and Football Association for lost revenues for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.
  • The League Cup and the Community Shield will be completely abolished.
  • Parachute payments will be scrapped and instead, 25 per cent of Premier League revenue will be distributed to the EFL.
  • Promotion play-offs brought in, involving 16th-placed team in the Premier League, and 3rd, 4th and 5th in the Championship.
  • Funding will be provided to set up a new and independent women’s league.
  • Season to start later and pre-season friendlies extended.

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