'Overwhelming support' from EFL clubs for Project Big Picture

The EFL has confirmed the majority of its clubs support Project Big Picture plans following meetings with chairman Rick Parry.

Each division held its own individual talks with the chairman of the EFL on Tuesday and the “overwhelming majority” of clubs have indicated a willingness to discuss the proposals put forward by a number of top Premier League clubs.

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A statement from the EFL said: “The proposals, which look to address the long-term economic imbalance across the football pyramid while also addressing the short-term financial need created as a result of Covid-19, received strong support, with an overwhelming majority of clubs indicating a willingness to discuss the proposals further on the basis that the primary benefits for the future of the English pyramid are clear.

“It was agreed that the proposals must be addressed and discussed in detail across all stakeholders for the benefit of the English game, and while there are no specific timescales for what happens next, there is a clear need for a progress in this matter as quickly as practically possible.”

'Project Big Picture' proposals

Eleven EFL clubs have told Sky Sports News they could go out of business by the end of the season without fans and without a financial bailout.

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Parry is a supporter of the controversial Project Big Picture proposal, a detailed plan which would see the biggest restructure of the Premier League since its conception in 1992 but one which is opposed by fans of the division’s ‘big-six’ teams.

Under the plan, income to lower-league clubs would increase, as well as an advanced £250m parachute payment.

However, there are concerns that Parry’s remarks have frustrated the Premier League and that could jeopardise a potential bailout. One board member at a Premier League club says the feeling among the majority of teams in the division is that Parry should now resign.

Thirteen League Two clubs responded to a Sky Sports News survey and 85 per cent said they were worried about their current financial situation. Ninety-two per cent were not satisfied with the government’s efforts to get fans back into stadiums.

Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace told Sky Sports News: “We have already got our house in order in terms of players. But I think a one-off shot in the arm to put things right and set us on the road to sustainability would be very welcome.

“The Government has mandated the Premier League to sort this. Rick Parry has said the definition of ‘sort this’ is £250m. Whether that comes with strings or as part of a bigger picture is another matter.

“But I think we are running out of time. It will probably be the end of this year before clubs start getting themselves in serious trouble.”

All but two clubs that responded to the survey felt the Premier League and the Government should offer financial assistance.

It was hoped that fans would be back in stadiums by the start of October, but plans were put on hold as coronavirus cases across the UK started to rise.

Ticket money is crucial to lower-league clubs and with their main outgoing being players’ wages, many are now reliant on their owners to foot the bill to keep them afloat.

Some clubs feel the Government has supported other industries and that football has been left to its own devices, because there is a perception that the entire pyramid is wealthy enough to stand on its own two feet. However, League One and Two clubs are struggling.

Earlier this month, a Sky Sports News survey of League One clubs found that 100 per cent felt the Premier League should offer a bailout and none felt the Government had done enough to get fans into stadiums.

Fleetwood Town chief executive Steve Curwood told Sky Sports News: “We are exceedingly worried.

“It is not just the loss of the traditional revenue association with the football club, but it is also the effect on the club’s owners’ ability to fund the club when his business and others are suffering significantly, as a result of the continued Covid-19 pandemic.

“This effects and touches many parts of the community. There are two hundred people employed by the club…the amount of work we do in the community is massive. The loss of that we could never get back.”

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