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Project Big Picture: Plan highly unlikely to get traction within Premier League – Christian Purslow

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Project Big Picture: Plan highly unlikely to get traction within Premier League - Christian Purslow 2

Aston Villa were promoted to the Premier League last season

Project Big Picture is “highly unlikely to get traction within the Premier League,” says Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow.

The plan’s backers want to reduce the Premier League from 20 to 18 clubs and scrap the EFL Cup.

Premier League shareholders will meet on Wednesday to discuss the project and finances in football.

“I don’t think we should give too much credence to this particular plan,” Purslow told Radio 4’s Today programme.

The proposals, led by Liverpool and Manchester United, became public earlier this week and have split opinion.

Under the plan, the EFL would get 25% of all future TV deals, which would be negotiated jointly, plus a £250m bail-out.

However, it would also see more power transferred to the so-called ‘big six’ clubs in the Premier League.

It would need 14 of the 20 current top-flight clubs to vote in favour.

“I think it is highly unlikely that this plan, as it has been described in public, is going to get much traction within the Premier League itself,” Purslow said.

“The idea that somehow the Premier League does not already take a hugely important role in funding the whole of the pyramid is fantasy.

“I think a much broader, long-term plan for football is what I would expect to come from the Premier League.”

EFL chairman Rick Parry said the plan was “in the best interests” of football in this country and praised both clubs for coming up with it.

The Premier League previously said the plan “could have a damaging impact on the whole game” and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it was “surprised and disappointed” by “backroom deals being cooked up”.

A joint statement from supporters’ groups of the ‘big six’ teams expressed their concern at the plans.

“I expect there to be an open and transparent dialogue. I also expect there to be concrete proposals on funding for lower levels of football,” Purslow said of Wednesday’s meeting.

“While I applaud the notion that the Championship, League One and League Two want to engage with the Premier League, the way to do that is to talk to the chairman and the chief executive of that league, through the front door, not to discuss it with only two Premier League teams.

‘Project Power Grab’

During a DCMS committee meeting, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden rejected the idea that the UK government may place a levy on the Premier League to bail out EFL clubs and condemned the proposals put forward by the owners of Liverpool and Manchester United.

“I would have preferred that at the end of this, rather than reading about this ‘Project Power Grab’ as you I think rightly put it, instead I was reading how they’d come to a deal to secure the future of football ,” he said.

“There is a problem in football which football is perfectly capable of resolving itself whereby the Premier League and the EFL just need to get together and do this deal.

“The deal is there to be done. It doesn’t require this closed-shop arrangement. We know from the conversations we have had that the EFL clubs will not be allowed to go bust, there are the resources there, but we need a comprehensive deal and this is a distraction from that.”

Asked how the government would encourage a rescue deal to proceed, Dowden added: “We need to keep the pressure on the Premier League to do this deal.

“I am in frequent contact with Richard Masters [Premier League chief executive] and they know there is a duty on them to do this. They are engaging in those talks and they need to get over the line, and that is the government’s expectation.

“I hope the Premier League understand the perception of their sport when they are spending so much money that they should be doing their part and that the EFL understand that it is not what fans or anyone else wants.”

The ‘Project Big Picture’ proposals

  • The Premier League cut from 20 to 18 clubs, with the Championship, League One and League Two each retaining 24 teams.
  • The bottom two teams in the Premier League relegated automatically with the 16th-placed team joining the Championship play-offs.
  • The League Cup and Community Shield abolished.
  • Parachute payments scrapped.
  • A £250m rescue fund made immediately available to the EFL and 25% of all future TV deals.
  • £100m paid to the FA to make up for lost revenue.
  • Nine clubs given ‘special voting rights’ on certain issues, based on their extended runs in the Premier League

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