English football’s increasingly bitter row over plans to alter the structure and financing of the game descended into threats and warnings ahead of Wednesday’s crunch meeting of Premier League clubs.
The plans, backed by Liverpool and Manchester United and dubbed ‘Project Big Picture’, would see an increase in funds for the 72 clubs in the Football League (EFL) but also include special voting rights for the top clubs in the Premier League and a reduction in the size of the top flight to 18 clubs.
While EFL club chairmen talked of “overwhelming support” for the plans, which added a 250 million pounds ($323.48 million) rescue package for their clubs, FA chairman Greg Clarke addressed reports that the ‘Big Six’ clubs had threatened to leave the Premier League.
Clarke stated he had been involved in initial discussions with the top clubs but left them after they started to discuss the possibility of a breakaway.
“In late 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, I of course, discontinued my involvement,” Clarke said in an open letter here to FA Council members.
While Clarke’s comments clearly provide a deterrent to any top flight clubs thinking of a breakaway option, should the plan fail to get enough support from the Premier League clubs, the EFL clubs appear enthusiastic about the plans.
The EFL said the plans “…received strong support, with an overwhelming majority of clubs indicating a willingness to discuss the proposals further on the basis that the primary benefits for the future of the English pyramid are clear.
“…while there are no specific timescales for what happens next, there is a clear need for a progress in this matter as quickly as practically possible,” added the statement here.
Parry, the ex-Liverpool and Premier League CEO, has been the public face of the proposals but his decision to work together with the top clubs has caused anger among some of the non-elite Premier League clubs, according to some media reports.
The Premier League clubs will meet on Wednesday with the FA holding an arranged Council meeting on Thursday.