Those behind Project Big Picture have threatened to start a breakaway league of the Premier League’s “big six” clubs if the proposed seismic changes to the game are not supported.
The revelation will only intensify discussions between the Premier League’s member clubs – bitterly divided as they meet for their first time since news of the attempted overhaul surprised English football.
Executives from all 20 sides will hold a video conference call today to discuss their thoughts, feelings and fears about the plan, which would be the biggest shake-up to the game in a generation.
FA chairman Greg Clarke was involved in initial talks about Project Big Picture but withdrew after he said the main aim of the proposals “became concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few clubs”.
Mr Clarke said that a breakaway league was mooted as a possible threat to gain support for the plans, which have been driven by Manchester United and Liverpool, alongside the chairman of the football league, Rick Parry.
The Project Big Picture proposals would put even more power in the hands of the biggest clubs. The nine clubs with the longest continual stay in the Premier League would be given special status and only six votes would be required to make major changes on rules and regulations, including the removal of a chief executive.
It would also see England’s top flight reduced from 20 teams to 18 and the dismantling of the League Cup and Community Shield.
Project Big Picture would need to be supported by 14 or more Premier League clubs in order to be approved should it be voted upon in its current guise.
It is highly unlikely to receive that level of support, with most clubs outside the big six (Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Chelsea) viewing it as a power grab which would leave them with significantly reduced influence in how the league is run.
Instead, Project Big Picture is likely to be the starting point for discussion. One of the most eye-catching proposals is £250m immediately given to the Football League clubs as a form of COVID pandemic bailout and 25% of future Premier League revenue.
These promises have seen the plan supported by a significant majority of the 72 Football League clubs, many of which are desperate for cash immediately as they struggle to survive the financial crisis wrought by the COVID pandemic.