PL hire Boston firm to help with next stage of Project Big Picture

Premier League hire Boston firm to help with next stage of Project Big Picture with key elements of controversial proposal, including scrapping League Cup and forming an 18-team top flight, still in play

  • The Premier League have hired a Boston firm to help with Project Big Picture 
  • The controversial plans proposed a smaller top flight and power to the Big Six 
  • Boston Consulting Group will assist in the review of English football
  • Scrapping the League Cup and making an 18-team league is still on the table 

The Premier League have hired a firm from Boston — home of Liverpool’s American owners — to help with the next stage of Project Big Picture.

The top flight’s board have appointed the Boston Consulting Group to assist with the review of English football triggered by PBP, which was spearheaded by Liverpool and Manchester United, and have promised to deliver their initial recommendations by next month.

In a letter sent to clubs this week, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters warns the review could herald dramatic changes in the key areas of league structure, fixture calendar and broadcasting deals.

The Premier League have hired a Boston firm to help with the next stage of Project Big Picture

The controversial proposal, put forward by Liverpool and United, was not endorsed last month

Masters writes that ‘the status quo is unlikely to be the right or unifying way forward in a significantly changed world’.

The decision to appoint a US-based consultancy firm has raised eyebrows at several clubs given the review has only come about as a result of secret talks between the American owners of Liverpool and United, John Henry and Joel Glazer, who in PBP proposed to cut the league to 18 clubs and give control over all future commercial and strategic decisions to ‘the Big Six’.

The headquarters of BCG are in Boston, where Henry’s Fenway Sports Group who run Liverpool are also based.

The review’s newly published terms of reference, seen by Sportsmail, make clear that the fundamental elements of PBP remain in play despite the Premier League’s claims last month that it would not be endorsed.

However, a group from Boston, where Liverpool owner John Henry is from, has been hired to help assist with a review into English football

Premier League chief Richard Masters warned that the review could herald dramatic changes

The review will include discussions on what it describes as finding the optimal league structure, optimising value in the domestic calendar, the future of domestic cup competitions and the Premier League’s governance model. Insiders regard the abolition of the League Cup as inevitable, while a slimmed down Premier League will also be given serious consideration.

In his note to clubs, Masters makes clear that significant change to the Premier League is inevitable due to ‘increasing challenges from other football competitions, sports and new forms of entertainment, as well as the impact of Covid-19 and other prevailing economic conditions’.

The Premier League have also pledged that the review will be ‘imaginative, ambitious and challenging, with no pre-determined conclusions’, another indication that major reforms are possible.

If anything the revelation of the PBP talks has accelerated the process of reform — as the league have committed to an ambitious timetable.

A slimmed down Premier League and the abolition of the League Cup remain on the table

Consultation with clubs will begin this month following the formation of a Club Strategic Advisory Group, with initial recommendations on competition structure, calendar and broadcasting to be discussed at a shareholders’ meeting next month.

The talks will move on to the controversial areas of revenue distribution and governance in the new year, with the objective of agreeing firm proposals for reform before the tender process for the 2022-25 TV contracts begins next spring.

The terms of reference indicate that the league are likely to adopt a two-speed approach to the reforms as they are constrained by existing commitments such as broadcasting contracts that run until 2022 and the international calendar which is fixed until 2024. As a result, the review is likely to conclude with recommendations for short and long-term solutions, with the more radical changes to come later on.

Following the ill-feeling caused by Liverpool and United’s secret talks, Masters is keen for all clubs to be consulted every step of the way. There will also be consultation with the FA, EFL and fans’ groups. 

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