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Premier League clubs votes down ‘Project Big Picture’ plans

The controversial proposal backed by the EFL was seen as a power grab from the Premier League’s “big six”

Premier League clubs unanimously agreed on Wednesday to reject the radical “Project Big Picture” plan after a meeting between the top division’s 20 teams.

Liverpool and Manchester United being the two clubs that drafted the proposal, have reportedly agreed to abandon their plans following stiff opposition from the rest of the Premier League.

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The controversial plan featured a £250-million bailout for the 72 teams in the second, third, and fourth tiers of English football, in addition to a 25% share of the Premier League’s annual revenue. It received “overwhelming” support from lower-league clubs on Tuesday.

However, the EPL plans for an alternative solution such as to assist with the financing and survival of the English Football League.

“Clubs will work collaboratively, in an open and transparent process, focusing on competition structure, calendar, governance, and financial sustainability,” the league said in a statement. “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.”

In the interim, the Premier League is making £50 million grants and interest-free loans as a rescue package for the clubs under League One and Two, the third and fourth tiers.

Teams in the lower leagues are at greater risk of bankruptcy because of their reliance on matchday revenue, which currently doesn’t exist due to games being played behind closed doors.

“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,” said the Premier League’s statement.

“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.”

EFL chairman Rick Parry championed Project Big Picture last week, saying it was “designed for the greater good of English football.” Parry forecasted a £200-million shortfall by the end of September because of coronavirus-related restrictions.

Crucially, the controversial reforms would’ve given superior veto power to nine of the Premier League’s biggest clubs – United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Everton, West Ham United, and Southampton – allowing those teams to control how broadcast revenue is distributed.

The Football Association, currently holds special voting privileges and possesses the power to approve or disapprove rule changes, strongly opposed the plans, according to The Guardian’s David Hytner and Paul MacInnes.

Everton chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale reportedly asked for an apology from Liverpool and United, who were accused of backroom scheming. The chairmen of both clubs refused.

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