English Football could be set for a revamp following confirmation that the Premier League and EFL are working on a joint venture called ‘Project Big Picture’.
The project involves a number of Premier League clubs working with the English Football League (EFL) on exploring the possibility of resetting the economics and governance across English football pyramid, in order to protect the game both in short and long term.
EFL Chairman, Rick Parry released a lengthy statement in which he confirmed that discussions and planning around the project “has been ongoing for quite some time, unrelated to the current pandemic but now has an urgency that simply cannot be denied.”
One particular focus is the financial aspect which Parry believes has caused Championship clubs to ‘struggle to behave prudently’ whilst Leagues One and Two are stretched to their very limits, in spite of the sport generating massive revenues and this plan is expected to end that.
Parry also noted that transitioning clubs between EFL and Premier League are facing ‘unbridgeable’ gaps due to £146m distribution within EFL, whilst bottom 14 Premier League clubs can receive circa £1.6bn with relegated clubs receiving £246m in parachute payments which represents just one-third of the Championship’s turnover.
Parry also reported that Championship club owners have spent 107% of income on wages last season which is unsustainable on top of £384m in capital prior to the pandemic which has hit clubs hard financially alongside various businesses helping to fund them.
It is hoped that ‘Project Big Picture’ will enable a massive step forward in Premier League sharing 25% of media net revenues with the EFL in an attempt ‘to correct this imbalance’ alongside strict cost controls to make every Championship, Leagues One and Two clubs sustainable beyond this crisis.
Another hope is that the financial width between bottom of the Premier League and top of the Championship is reduced substantially to create a ‘softer landing for relegated clubs’ with elimination of parachute payments to create fairer competition and prevent dangerous behaviour.
Plans are also afoot for a £250m non-repayable loan rescue fund in the short term to replace lost matchday revenue due to spectators being banned from attending matches this season, enabling every club to plan to continue play moving forward with certainty.
Parry concluded by urging clubs to ‘reinvigorate’ under this project, saying; “Now is the time to address both the long-term health of the game and the most challenging short-term crisis it has ever faced.
“Project Big Picture provides a new beginning which will revitalise the football pyramid at all levels. This new beginning will reinvigorate clubs in the lower leagues and the communities in which they are based.”
Parry however iterated that this project is about benefitting ‘the game as a whole,’ whilst tackling issues troubling everyone and strengthening clubs ‘at a time when they need it most.’
In a clear nod to supporters, Parry’s final line stated that “This is a blueprint for the future of English football and for everyone who cherishes it.”
Premier League also released a statement in which it and the England Football Association (FA) ‘support a wide-ranging discussion on the future of the game,’ especially concerning competition structures, calendar and overall financing in light of the financial impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Premier League also iterated in their statement that this discussion need to be held ‘through proper channels’ in order to allow all clubs and stakeholders a chance to contribute their views.
England’s top league also stated that it is working with clubs and EFL in ‘good faith’ on a rescue funding plan but however criticised Parry for allegedly giving ‘his on-the-record support.’