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Liverpool, Man Utd lead plans to shake up English football

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool have taken nine points from their opening three Premier League games

Manchester United and Liverpool are the driving force behind the biggest changes to English football in a generation and an extraordinary overhaul of the Premier League.

The two clubs have worked together on a radical set of proposals – called ‘Project Big Picture’ – that will reshape the finances of the game. The Premier League, the most lucrative sports league in the world, would see a reduction to 18 teams, and controlling power in the hands of the biggest clubs.

In return for tearing up many of the rules that have governed the game since the Premier League’s inception in 1992, there will be a £250million rescue package to the Football League to see them through the Covid crisis.

It can be revealed the details of the working document “Revitalisation” authored by Liverpool’s American ownership Fenway Sports Group (FSG) with support from United.

It anticipates the backing of the other members of the so-called big six, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

In a remarkable set of proposals, 25 per cent of the Premier League’s annual revenue will go to the EFL clubs, with £250m (€275m) paid up front to see them through the current crisis. There would also be a gift of £100m (€110m) to sustain the English FA.

However, there would be an abolition of the one-club, one-vote principle that has sustained the Premier League since its inception as well as the abolition of the threshold of 14 votes to pass any decision or regulation change.

Under the new proposals, the League Cup and the Community Shield would be abolished. There have been additional discussions that the League Cup would survive but without the participation of the clubs in Europe.

There would be two automatic promotion places for Championship clubs, but the third, fourth and fifth placed clubs would be in a play-off tournament with the 16th-placed Premier League club.

The nine clubs who have been in the Premier League for the longest – which includes the big six – would dictate its running in every aspect and would be free to play more games in the expanded Champions League that is anticipated from the 2024/’25 season onwards.

As well as the Premier League dropping from 20 clubs to 18, there would be 24 in each of the Championship, League One and League Two making a total of 90.

The plan is supported by the EFL chairman Rick Parry who has held talks with Liverpool’s principal owner, the American investor John W Henry, and shareholder and director Mike Gordon.

In addition, Parry has spoken to the Glazer family, who own United.

read also:Son set fire to mum’s home on night Liverpool won Premier League title

The talks began in 2017 but have been accelerated since the coronavirus pandemic has thrust football into the grip of crisis with no fans in stadiums until March at the earliest.

Liverpool and United are prepared for a fierce debate over their proposals but they want them implemented as soon as possible and to take effect for the 2022/’23 season.

The ‘Revitalisation’ document calls for immediate action to cut dramatically what it calls the “revenue chasm” in earnings from television contracts between the Premier League and the EFL.

In order to discourage Championship clubs from gambling recklessly on promotion, the parachute payments system would be abolished in favour of the 25 per cent share of Premier League revenue being shared more equitably among EFL clubs.

Under proposals for the new model of distribution of television revenue in the Premier League, Fenway, the driving force behind the document, insist there would be no greater share for the top six.

Their stated aim is to eliminate the huge gap in earnings between Premier League and EFL clubs while in return having a greater control of the decisions made by the Premier League.

The document says: “A reset of the economics and governance of the English football pyramid is long overdue”.

The proposals also rewrite the Premier League’s 20-club democracy in favour of placing huge power in the hands of the nine clubs with the longest continual stay in the division.

As things stand that is the big six, as well as Everton, Southampton and West Ham. Those nine clubs afforded “long-term shareholder status” would have unprecedented power, with the votes of just six of them required to make sweeping changes. These clubs would even be able to veto a new owner taking over a rival club.

Parry said that he had the support of many of his 72 members, many currently facing financial ruin, to go ahead with the plan. He said: “What do we do? Leave it exactly as it is and allow the smaller clubs to wither? Or do we do something about it? And you can’t do something about it without something changing. And the view of our clubs is if the [big] six get some benefits but the 72 also do, we are up for it.”

He accepted there would be opposition from the Premier League clubs outside the big six who would see it as detrimental to their financial prospects with less money and two fewer places in the top flight.

“It is definitely going to be challenging and it is an enormous change so that won’t be without some pain,” Parry said: “Do I genuinely think it’s for the greater good of the game as a whole? Absolutely. And if the [big] six are deriving some benefit then why shouldn’t they. Why wouldn’t they put their names to this otherwise?”

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