14 October 2020

PL Clubs Reject Project Big Picture, L1 & L2 Bailout Agreed  (Sky Sports)

Premier LeaguePremier League clubs have rejected Project Big Picture but have agreed to create an emergency financial package for clubs in League One and League Two.

At a virtual meeting on Wednesday, all 20 clubs "unanimously agreed" that neither the Premier League nor the FA would endorse or pursue the proposals, which included changing the voting structure of the Premier League, as well as funding models for the English Football League (EFL) and Football Association (FA).

The clubs have also agreed to work as a "collective" and with transparency on any future plans that involve the structure or financial of English football.

These proposals, which have now been rejected, were initially drawn up by Liverpool, with the backing of Manchester United.

* '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

The plans had involved 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.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Premier League said: "All 20 Premier League clubs today unanimously agreed that Project Big Picture will not be endorsed or pursued by the Premier League, or The FA.

"Further, Premier League Shareholders agreed to work together as a 20-club collective on a strategic plan for the future structures and financing of English football, consulting with all stakeholders to ensure a vibrant, competitive and sustainable football pyramid.

"Clubs will work collaboratively, in an open and transparent process, focusing on competition structure, calendar, governance and financial sustainability.

"This project has the full support of The FA and will include engagement with all relevant stakeholders including fans, Government and, of course, the EFL."

The EFL, however, said the majority of its clubs overwhelmingly supported Project Big Picture plans following meetings with chairman Rick Parry.

Six Championship clubs have told Sky Sports News they could go out of business by the end of the season without fans and without a financial bailout.

On the EFL bailout, the Premier League said it "aims to ensure that League One and League Two clubs will not go out of business".

It added: "League One and League Two clubs rely more heavily on matchday revenue and have fewer resources at their disposal than Championship or Premier League clubs and are therefore more at risk, especially at a time when fans are excluded from attending matches.

"This offer will consist of grants and interest-free loans totalling a further £50m on top of the £27.2m solidarity payments already advanced to League One and League Two this year, making a total of £77.2m.

"Discussions will also continue with the EFL regarding Championship clubs' financial needs. This addresses Government concerns about lower league clubs' financial fragility.

"Football is not the same without attending fans and the football economy is unsustainable without them. The Premier League and all our clubs remain committed to the safe return of fans as soon as possible."

Dowden: Rescue package is a good start

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has been clear in his view that football should be able to address problems in their infrastructure themselves.

Reacting to the Premier League's announcement on Wednesday, he said on Twitter: "This morning I reiterated calls of many in the football family for bigger clubs to look after smaller clubs.

"An offer has been made by the Premier League to EFL L1&2 which is a good start.

"I urge them to work together and stay focused on helping clubs through this crisis."

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Ian Mather - chief executive of League Two Cambridge United - said: "It's helpful and it's money that wasn't there, so thank you for that, but we need to understand exactly what the deal is.

"Is it enough? I don't know, but it is some progress. Something needed to happen and we do need a long-term reset of finance for football."

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