October 26, 2020

Man Utd and Liverpool threaten to ramp up European Super League plans if clubs don’t accept Project Big Picture vision

Man Utd and Liverpool threaten to ramp up European Super League plans if clubs don’t accept Project Big Picture vision

MANCHESTER UNITED and Liverpool may ramp up Euro Super League plans in a bitter twist if Project Big Picture is snubbed.

The two English giants face a backlash when all 20 Prem clubs stage a virtual meeting today.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United could push for a European Super League

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United could push for a European Super LeagueCredit: Getty – Pool
Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool are supporting the Red Devils

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Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are supporting the Red DevilsCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

But SunSport has been told smaller top-flight teams have been threatened with a breakaway European league if they do not agree to the deal. Project Big Picture wants to reduce the Prem from 20 to 18 clubs and scrap the Carabao Cup

The EFL would also get 25 per cent of all future TV deals, plus £250million.

But it has emerged the Big Six stand to rake in ‘hundreds of millions’ if they get the rights to sell up to eight games a season on overseas pay-per-view streams.

According to club sources, the ultimatum came as top flight outfits voiced their private anger at the Project Big Picture proposals, including giving the Big Six a policy veto and a fundamental change in the club revenue split.

One insider revealed: “The pair of them made it pretty clear what they saw the situation was.

“We were told ‘you either come with us and make a deal or we will start detailed talks about a Super League’.

“The argument was that by agreeing to these proposals, we would still have a share in what we have got now but risk being left with nothing if we didn’t go along with it.”

Club bosses are ready to call the bluff of Liverpool and United, believing that even the rest of the Big Six are reluctant to publicly or privately back the plans.

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FA chairman Greg Clarke yesterday revealed he walked away from initial PBP talks in the spring when a breakaway league was ‘mooted as a threat’.

At that point, he claims in a letter to the FA Council: “The principal aim of these discussions became the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few clubs, with a breakaway league mooted as a threat.”

And he warned that any breakaway competition would not be sanctioned by the FA, adding: “It is the FA’s responsibility to sanction competitions in England – including any proposed new competition – as well as being responsible for licensing clubs, through UEFA, to play in Europe.”

It seems certain that United and Liverpool will be walking into a firestorm at today’s meeting, especially with the League board also furious at the backdoors deal cut with EFL chairman Rick Parry.

A number of Prem clubs plan to call for a vote to demand Parry’s resignation as a price of his perceived ‘treachery’ before there can be any future talks about a bailout of the lower divisions.

Even Big Six members who back some of the proposals believe the plan as it stands is doomed to fail.

Other clubs have accused the American hierarchies at Anfield and Old Trafford of simply having no understanding of English footballing culture.

PROPOSED CHANGES IN FULL

  • EFL given £250m for loss of matchday revenue – deducted from future TV earnings.
  • Nine longest-serving clubs have ‘special status’ – with just six votes from those clubs needed to pass a new rule.
  • Premier League to go from 20 clubs to 18.
  • FA awarded £100m gift to help during Covid-19 pandemic to help non-league game, the women’s game and grassroots .
  • 8.5 per cent of annual net Premier League revenue to go to ‘good causes’, including the FA.
  • 25 per cent of all combined Premier League and Football League revenues to go to EFL clubs.
  • Six per cent of Premier League gross revenues to pay for stadium improvements across the top four divisions.
  • New rules for the distribution of Premier League television income, overseas and domestic.
  • League Cup and the Community Shield to be axed.
  • 24 clubs each in the Championship, League One and League Two reducing the professional game overall from 92 clubs to 90.
  • A women’s professional league independent of the Premier League and FA.
  • Two sides automatically relegated from the Premier League every season and the top two Championship teams promoted.
  • The 16th place Premier League club plays in a play-off tournament with the Championship’s third, fourth and fifth placed teams.
  • Financial Fair Play regulations in line with Uefa, and full access for Premier League executive to club accounts.
  • Away tickets for fans to be capped at £20, with travel subsidised, a focus on a return to safe standing, a minimum away allocation of eight per cent capacity.
  • Later Premier League start in August to give greater scope for pre-season friendlies, and requirement for all clubs to compete once every five years in a summer Premier League tournament.
  • Huge changes to loan system allowing clubs to have 15 players out on loan domestically at any one time and up to four at a single club in England.
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*According to The Telegraph

But there is also a recognition that even if there is a huge vote to shoot down the plan in flames, it will not go away for long.

Liverpool and United both have seats on the board of the European Club Association, headed by Juventus President Andrea Agnelli, which is plotting a revamp of club football from 2024-25.

A European Super League remains the ambition of a number of Europe’s leading clubs, especially those who dominate their national leagues and need more competitive football to keep revenues growing.

What has become clear to all 20 clubs and the League is the commercial push that will exacerbate the divide between the haves and the have nots.

Among the plans drafted by Liverpool and United would be for all clubs to have the right to sell the overseas rights to up to eight games per season.

It is estimated that Big Six showdowns would attract huge audience figures in the Far East, with expectations that clubs ‘could earn more from one game than an entire Champions League season.’

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says he fears Premier League reform plans are a ‘power grab’