CHRIS SUTTON: It’s dirty, it stinks and it kills dreams… Project Big Picture will change English football as we know it and it cannot happen
- Project Big Picture is threatening to change the face of English football forever
- New plans include a top-flight of 18 teams and scrapping two cup tournaments
- It would be harder for a surprise team to win the league like Leicester did in 2016
Shall we sit down and discuss how we can save football?
Yours, John W Henry.’
Something tells me this was not how the conversation started between Liverpool and Manchester United’s owners, despite their efforts to disguise these radical proposals as a rescue package.
Man United’s Joel Glazer Liverpool’s John W Henry (right) are trying to change English football
Project Big Picture is threatening to change Premier League and the English game forever
Replace ‘save’ with ‘control’ and maybe we are closer to the true exchange. Clubs are dying because of the coronavirus crisis, but the Big Six cartel are looking at how they can make it work to their advantage.
It is dirty opportunism, and dictatorial. As Martin Samuel wrote yesterday, it is a power grab of the highest order and one which stinks.
Players should see it that way, too, even if their own clubs are claiming it is for the good of the game. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. Do not be fooled into thinking otherwise.
The proposals have been branded a power grab by Big Six teams such as Liverpool and United
Seeing as it is being called Project Big Picture, let us look at that big picture, club by club.
Wolves fans — want to see your team win the Premier League in your lifetime? Tough luck, because the Big Six just got bigger.
Newcastle fans — want to see an ambitious owner replace Mike Ashley? Tough luck, because the Big Six haven’t given it their blessing.
Brighton fans — fancy lifting the League Cup? Tough luck, because it has just been abolished.
Teams like Wolves and Newcastle would be unable to challenge at the top of English football
Championship clubs — fancy your chances in the play-offs? It’s a shame you will probably have to beat the Premier League club who finished 16th to get there. Chances are their squad is superior to yours, so best of luck with that.
In 1991-92, I was a Norwich player and we finished 18th in the First Division. In 1992-93, the Premier League’s debut season, we were almost crowned champions.
But this move would severely limit the chances of a club doing what we came close to doing, or what Leicester did in 2015-16.
Where is the fun in that? It is a dream killer.
Project Big Picture would make it harder for a team like Leicester City in 2016 to win the league
This would make the big boys bigger and the little guys smaller, all while limiting the Premier League to 18 teams.
I would be amazed if it gets the green light. Why would West Bromwich Albion agree to this? Or Crystal Palace? That would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.
Everton, Southampton and West Ham may have been promised seats at the top table, but they know the Big Six could always out-vote them.
EFL sides would find it tricker to reach the Premier League with fewer relegation spots
During this crisis, the Premier League and their shareholders have endured several PR disasters.
From clubs furloughing workers while spending millions in the transfer market, to agents taking lavish cuts, to supporters being charged £14.95 for pay-per-view matches. But this takes the cake.
This smacks of Liverpool and United saying they will save you from that sinking ship, but only if they get something in return. And it is not just something — it is everything. It is the English game as we know it. It cannot happen.
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