What is 'Project Big Picture'? Manchester United and Liverpool slammed as 'parasites' for controversial plan

Quite simply, it's an 18-page document that proposes the idea of ringing in some massive changes to English football with the aim to help clubs get through the current financial crisis


                            What is 'Project Big Picture'? Manchester United and Liverpool slammed as 'parasites' for controversial plan
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Even as the Premier League is set to resume action this weekend, there's plenty happening off the field in the form of Project Big Picture. With much of the world still attempting to come to terms to understand what the deal with this is all about, it's quite simply an 18-page document that proposes the idea of ringing in some massive changes to English football. The Telegraph describes it as "an extraordinary overhaul of the Premier League".

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The idea was collectively proposed by EFL chairman Rick Parry along with Liverpool principal owner John W Henry and director Mike Gordon and Manchester United co-chairman Joel Glazer and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. Should the plan come to fruition, the top division of English football would see the teams cut from 20 to 18 in addition to the scrapping of the League Cup and Community Shield. 

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To compensate for the abolishing of these two tournaments, the EFL would get 25 percent of all future TV deals, plus a £250M ($326M) rescue fund made immediately available to aid clubs to manage during the coronavirus pandemic. To answer the question as to why 'Project Big Picture' is needed, the outbreak of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has left football league clubs in a major revenue deficit and there have been calls for the Premier League to provide financial assistance.

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According to Daily Mail, Henry and Glazer will continue to push for an 18-club Premier League, which they believe is absolutely necessary to bring in more space in the calendar for the biggest clubs to compete in an expanded Champions League. Should 'Project Big Picture' move forward, especially with the Manchester United and Liverpool staunch on their stand, the ones in favor of the thought feel it would be in effect for the 2022-23 season, requiring four Premier League relegations and two Championship promotions in the 2021-22 campaign. This has not gone down well with ambitious clubs who are unhappy with the idea of parachute payments as a system being taken away. Plus, bringing in the concept of stringent salary caps were also looked as restrictive by a few.

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In addition, the proposal also had a few more key changes that it put forward.

(i) Away tickets to be capped at £20 ($26) and subsidized away travel

(ii) A later Premier League start so as to allow more pre-season friendlies and also an obligation for every team to take part once every five years in a summer EPL tournament

(iii) League One will promote three clubs and relegate four each season. League Two promotes both and relegates four. In addition, clubs in League one and below don't need to run academies

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(iv) Allowing Premier League clubs to have 15 players on domestic loans. Up to four players can be on loan at any one club and the option to recall players in case of changes in the managerial structure

(v) Creating a new league for women's football free from control to the Premier League and the FA

Reactions

Needless to say, the reactions on social media were negative. "For all the positive aspects of these proposals (cap on away ticket prices and the £250m to the EFL), there’s a lot that’s deeply troubling here. Hazard a strong guess that LFC and Man U are keen to maximize revenue for the 'big 6' but keen to prevent the emergence of another MCFC," read one of the tweets.

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"The bigger picture is the control the top 6 would have. They all vote the same and the motion passes! So they offer up a vote where they get 10% TV revenue each & everyone else gets 1% with 25% for EFL & that gets passed! Making the big 6 even further ahead and more elite!" read a comment. 

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"They’re like parasites... they feed on desperation. What this does is prey on clubs who need money badly during COVID and aims to isolate around 10 clubs in the whole pyramid. Disgrace," wrote one of the fans.

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"It isn’t Project Big Picture, it’s Project Yankee Cartel, an attempted fraud of epic proportions, hiding behind the football economics of the Pandemic. Shame on you @LFC and @ManUtd #Disgraceful," seconded another tweet.

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"If you’re wondering what Project Big Picture is all about, it’s effectively suggesting that Manchester United, Liverpool, and chums are the only hopes to fix the broken EFL. Out of the kindness of their own hearts*, they are prepared to bail it out. *in exchange for ALL the power," a fan remarked.

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"Well done West Ham for opposing the snide Project Big Picture. Now what about the rest of you clubs acting in the interest of football and not the self-interest of the likes of Liverpool & Manchester United who’s actions are lower than a snakes belly!" a tweet read.

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According to CNN, the Premier League expressed its disappointment with the proposal that was put forward. "English football is the world's most-watched, and has a vibrant, dynamic, and competitive league structure that drives interest around the globe," it said in its statement. "To maintain this position, it is important that we all work together. Both the Premier League and The FA support a wide-ranging discussion on the future of the game, including its competition structures, calendar, and overall financing particularly in light of the effects of Covid-19."

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"Football has many stakeholders, therefore this work should be carried out through the proper channels enabling all clubs and stakeholders the opportunity to contribute. In the Premier League's view, a number of the individual proposals in the plan published today could have a damaging impact on the whole game and we are disappointed to see that Rick Parry, Chair of the EFL, has given his on-the-record support. The Premier League has been working in good faith with its clubs and the EFL to seek a resolution to the requirement for Covid-19 rescue funding. This work will continue."

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