FA chairman Greg Clarke: I left Project Big Picture talks after breakaway league threat

FA chairman Greg Clarke says he walked away from ‘Project Big Picture’ talks in the spring “when the principal aim of these discussions became the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few clubs with a breakaway league mooted as a threat”.

He said in a letter to the FA Council: “I of course, discontinued my involvement and counselled a more consensus-based approach involving all Premier League clubs and its Chair and CEO.”

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He warned that the FA had “substantial controls” it could use to thwart any proposals it felt would run counter to the best interests of the game.

A proposal to change the voting structure of the Premier League, as well as funding models for the English Football League and Football Association, has been drawn up by Liverpool’s owners and is backed by Manchester United.

The proposal – called ‘Project Big Picture’ – includes several other major changes to the structure of English football, with a reduction from 20 to 18 teams in the Premier League and the scrapping of the EFL Cup and Community Shield.

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The plans have led one board member at a Premier League club to state there is agreement among 14 clubs that EFL chairman Rick Parry should resign over them.

Clarke added: “We, the FA Board and Council, have to ensure that any changes would be to the long-term benefit of the whole of football and we have substantial controls to help ensure that the best interests of the game are served by any new proposals.

“In addition to the Special Share in the Premier League, which prevents certain changes being made to the constitution without the FA’s consent, it is also the FA’s responsibility to sanction competitions in England – including any proposed new competition – as well as being responsible for licensing clubs, through UEFA, to play in Europe. Additionally, UEFA look to us to nominate the league, and therefore the clubs, that will play in their competitions.

“Let’s continue to work together to determine what is best for English football, with full dialogue between all key stakeholders.

“However, there is more to our game than economics. Change must benefit clubs, fans and players; not just selective balance sheets. In these difficult times unity, transparency and common purpose must override the interests of the few.”

The ‘Project Big Picture’ proposals:

  • Premier League reduced to 18 clubs
  • No EFL Cup or Community Shield
  • Special status for nine longest serving clubs – ‘Big Six’, Everton, West Ham, Southampton
  • Only six of the nine longest-serving clubs need to vote for major change
  • £250m immediate compensation for EFL
  • Figure also represents coronavirus financial bail-out
  • Club who finishes 16th in Premier League to replace sixth-placed Championship club in EFL play-offs
  • Premier League to commit 25 per cent of future revenue to EFL

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