'Project Big Picture' – What are the papers saying?

‘Project Big Picture’ has hit the headlines, so what are the newspapers saying?

The Mail: Premier League descends into civil war

The Premier League descended into civil war on Sunday following the emergence of secret plans for a radical restructure of the topflight hatched by Liverpool and Manchester United, reports the Daily Mail.

On an extraordinary day, the Premier League also launched a scathing attack on EFL chairman Rick Parry for supporting Project Big Picture, which would cut the division to 18 clubs, restrict relegation and give the Big Six unfettered power to make further changes.

The Government condemned those involved for indulging in a ‘backroom deal that would create a closed shop at the top of the game’.

The Sun: Clubs offered chance to rejoin EFL

Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Man City were offered chance to rejoin EFL as Man Utd and Liverpool plot revamp, writes The Sun.

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That astonishing offer by EFL chairman Rick Parry came as the ex-Premier League boss – he was the league’s first chief executive 27 years ago – emerged as the frontman for the new model.

Parry said: “It’s two of our great clubs showing leadership when it’s needed and exercising great responsibility. This provides long-term hope and will make our clubs sustainable.”

The Mail: ‘A disgusting Big Six power grab’

Martin Samuel, in the Daily Mail, described the proposals as ‘a disgusting Big Six power grab.’

“This is about six clubs controlling the wealth and seizing the power, right down to deciding who gets into their competition. This is about closed shop protectionism that will end the Premier League as a vibrant competition. This is about getting your round in with another man’s money.

“This is, in essence, every rotten, contemptuous, self-serving, destructive idea the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool have come up with across the last two decades, repurposed as a rescue package.

“Project Big Picture? Far from saving our game, all it would do is reduce. Reduce what makes football fun. Reduce its unpredictability, reduce the excitement, reduce the chances for Wolves or Leicester or Aston Villa. Reduce the hope of a change of ownership at Newcastle. Reduce your chances of promotion. Reduce your hopes of success if you get there. Reduce, reduce, reduce.”

The Mirror: ‘A coronavirus power grab when the nation is sick’

Andy Dunn, The Mirror‘s chief sports writer, also called the move a ‘coronavirus power grab’ in his latest column.

“The big picture could not be clearer, it is the picture of a coronavirus power grab. It might have been in the pipeline for some time but the strike is coming when the nation is sick.

“It is probably no coincidence this scheme appears to have been born in the USA, where help so often comes with conditions. And the conditions for the £250million bung to the EFL and £100million to the FA are many, none particularly palatable.”

The Guardian: ‘The negative reaction seems bizarre’

Meanwhile, in The Guardian, David Conn suggests the proposal should not be swept off the table…

“There are so many extraordinary elements in the Liverpool and Manchester United proposals to reshape English football, and so much understandable scepticism, that the historic move at the heart of it is in danger of being missed.

“So, for clarity, it really is true that the US owners of these two fabulously rich football corporations have produced an offer that has not been forthcoming and never seemed possible from any Premier League leadership figures for 28 years.

“There are, undoubtedly, some self-serving elements to their prospectus but by far the most significant is the proposal that the Premier League should share a net 25% of its future TV deals with the English Football League, and provide £250m immediately to help the 72 EFL clubs through their financial crisis.

“That is an offer, finally after a generation, to re-join the top division with the three below and repair the vast, calamitous financial gap caused by the breakaway of the First Division from the Football League to form the Premier League in 1992.

“The wholly negative reaction of the government to this plan for huge financial reparations, which also includes increased money for the FA and grassroots good causes – approximately 8.5% of annual net Premier League TV money – seems bizarre.”

The Telegraph: ‘A hostile takeover spun as a rescue package’

Jason Burt, in The Telegraph, writes the move is a hostile takeover spun as a rescue package.

“What is so stunning about ‘Project Big Picture’ is its complete lack of perspective. There are some apparently good ideas sugar-coating a poison pill that would surrender control of English football to a small number of big clubs. This is what a cartel looks like. Make no mistake it is a hostile takeover dressed up as a rescue.”

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