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project big picture proposals


Project Big Picture proposals

The announcement of  the Project Big Picture proposals certainly made the first international break of the season a little more interesting and, with the plans of both Liverpool and Manchester United now being made public, all manner of debate has now been generated.

In one corner you have those who believe that they have the future of the English game at heart and, in the other, you have those who believe these proposals are nothing more than a well-timed powerplay from those who have self-interest at heart.

Proposals that cover many facets of the beautiful game within this country and with a financial inducement being dangled in front of the EFL, those within the lower levels are ready to accept whatever changes come their way.

With finances within the EFL running at all time low, a one-off payment of £250m will be music to their ears and if it means the scrapping of the Community Shield and their own Carabao Cup competition, then it will be a price worth paying.

However, there is a sense that once such a cash injection is received, the ladder to the Premier League is soon removed and with parachute payments to relegated clubs becoming a thing of the past, it would put promotion hopefuls at a huge disadvantage.

Because if a team is one of three lucky outfits to gain promotion, they can afford to splash the cash that summer, knowing that if all goes wrong and they finish the following campaign in the relegation zone, a safety net will be provided for their demotion.

A safety net that would be removed and in doing so, it would improve the chances of survival for the more established Premier League clubs – a scenario that keeps the flow of promotion and relegation in place, but most likely creates many more yo-yo clubs in the process.

While it is the number of clubs within the division which is another talking point, as another part of the proposal would see the Premier League scaled down to 18 clubs, with the benefit supposedly being gained by the English national team.

With less league activity scheduled, it means those who are fortunate enough to represent their country in either the European Championships or World Cup would be sharper for those all-important major international tournaments.

Then again, it is hard to see where such a benefit can be gained if UEFA press ahead with their own plans and if the Champions League gets expanded in 2024, those spare domestic dates would be filled by continental fixtures instead.

Which means there is a sense of giving with one hand and taking with the other and if the Premier League was to be scaled down to 18 and the whole league setup shrunk to 90 clubs, it would also be slightly harder to gain promotion to the top-flight.

Because also in the line of fire for Project Big Picture are the EFL Championship play-offs and, where they were once the preserve of the clubs that finished between 3rd and 6th in the second tier, the new proposals would now see only 5th place as a lowest possible placing before entry.

Which begs the question, where does the other entrant come from and the answer to this, is the club who finishes 16th in the Premier League, a scenario that could eventually see a relegation/promotion play-off such as what is seen north of the border in Scotland.

Whether the format would still be a straight semi-final and subsequent final, with the winner either staying up or going up remains to be seen. However, if we use Scottish football as an example, there is a much greater element of protection for the team that currently operates at the highest level.

Therefore, it may be safe to assume a similar setup would be in place within England and this would mean the club that finished 16th in the Premier League, would then be afforded a bye to the play-off final.

Compared to the other elements of the proposal, this can be considered nothing more than cosmetic surgery to a competition that has been active for more than a quarter-century and in that time the gap between the Premier League and the rest of the game has grown ever further.

While there could even be a chasm within the Premier League itself, as the current two-thirds majority regarding the voting procedure is also set to be amended and instead the “big six” and three other outfits would be granted special voting powers.

Powers that would only strengthen the hand of those “big six” members and if anything, create a genuine path to the European Super League which has either been suggested or threatened countless times before.

Quite simply, the Project Big Picture proposals have the potential to offer seismic change to the English football fraternity and at a time when the EFL are desperate for money, they will hope the plans are eventually voted through.

Then again, their potential aid is attached to a number of caveats and some seem too much for others to swallow and with it being derided in the most important quarters, (the Premier League themselves and the F.A,), this proposal might not be the lottery win the minnows are praying for.



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