English Premier League

English Football’s Hostage Crisis

How “Project Big Picture” hides its nefarious intentions behind a veil of perceived benevolence…

Yes, this is a very strongly worded title. It is intentionally done so, and you will see why soon enough.

This past weekend, the Daily Telegraph leaked a proposed plan for financial restructuring and debt relief within English professional football. This plan, dubbed “Project Big Picture”, was the brainchild of the Premier League’s “Big Six” football clubs (Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham), with the masterminds being Liverpool chairman Tom Werner and Manchester United chairman Joel Glazer. This plan aimed to help address the current pressing concerns facing football clubs in England, namely in the English Football League (EFL), the second, third, and fourth tier of the professional football pyramid in the country. These pressing financial concerns stem from the ongoing COVID pandemic, which has not allowed clubs to bring in match day revenue, but they also come from a widening financial gap between the Premier League and the EFL. There was already some serious fears for the survival of some EFL clubs before the pandemic, but that has only been heightened since this all started. On the surface, this seems to be an act of benevolence from the top of the game, wanting to help these EFL clubs, institutions in their communities, survive a serious financial scare. However, as you peel back the layers and see everything proposed in this plan, it takes on a whole new nefarious meaning.

So let us talk about the money. After all, the main purpose of this plan is to provide financial relief for the EFL. Unlike in the Premier League, where clubs earn the majority of their revenue from the league’s insanely lucrative TV broadcasting contracts, almost all of the clubs in the Championship, League One, and League Two, the leagues making up the EFL, earn the lion’s share of their revenue from match day earnings, mostly made up by ticket sales. Since the COVID pandemic began, fans have not been allowed to attend matches due to health and safety concerns, meaning all clubs in the country have lost a significant amount of earnings for this year. While this has led to some worries for big Premier League teams, this has been massively devastating for teams further down the football pyramid. British financial firm BDO found that every team in League One and League Two, as well as 92 percent of teams in the Championship, have taken advantage of Britain’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, while many clubs across the EFL have needed to roll out wage cuts or redundancies in order to save money. These financial issues have hit a league that is already not financially sustainable, and we have seen examples in recent seasons of clubs that faced serious financial peril or, in the case of Bury FC, are directly at threat of liquidation and extinction. As teams have increased their desire to hunt for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that is the Premier League TV money, the EFL has seen an overall increase in player salaries and operating costs, which has, in turn, rapidly increased expenditures of most teams. This already present financial strain has been worsened exponentially by the COVID pandemic, and it is very possible that, without support, many clubs in the EFL will face extinction. And it is important to think about this not in the sense of these just being football teams, the random names you see in the lower leagues when you boot up FIFA 21, but these are cultural institutions. These clubs are sown into the fabric of the communities they exist around, often in smaller towns across England. They are not only a major employer in these areas, but they hold a cultural significance in the eyes of the locals, the club’s supporters. They may not have the regional or global draw of the bigger Premier League sides, but they are just as much a part of these communities, if not more so, than any other business or industry. Their survival is not just about keeping a football team in a league, it is about maintaining something that holds incredible financial and cultural significance for people.

So what does the plan propose? There are two different aspects. Firstly, Premier League clubs will give an immediate payment to the EFL in the amount of £250 million to account for lost match day revenue. Also, 25 percent of all combined revenue from the Premier League and Football League will be given to EFL clubs moving forward.

Looking at the revenue sharing first, I think it is a good first step, but not necessarily something that makes a massive difference. Yes, it does bring in extra money to all of these clubs, but it seems that this is largely just recycling some of the EFL money and putting it back into the EFL, on top of a not large but still significant contribution from Premier League clubs. Despite this concern, it is an overall positive development that should be helpful for EFL teams, but this is where my support stops in regards to the financial aspect of this deal.

The £250 million immediate payment to the EFL, on paper, looks like a very kind action by the Premier League, showing they care about lower league football and its survival. However, if you read the details of the plan, you notice this is not a donation or a grant, it is a loan, and the loan is taken out against the future revenue streams of EFL teams. This money, meant to represent the money lost by EFL clubs from lost match day revenue, money that is essentially already theirs, is being “gifted” to them by the Premier League, with the catch that all earnings from that point on would have to be pooled together in order to pay back the Premier League. This seems ever so slightly predatory, with Premier League clubs taking advantage of lower league sides during a time of serious peril. Throw on an interest rate, and one might mistake this for loan sharking. While this does not have an interest rate attached to it, it uses several other proposals, which directly benefit the bigger teams and, in many cases, hurts EFL teams, as a sort of quasi-interest payment. The one main charitable action from this plan, the immediate payment, is really nothing more than a predatory loan, and the proposals acting in place of an interest payment are quite something.

There are a variety of proposals attached to this plan, covering a wide variety of topics within English football. To be completely honest, I actually like some of them. For starters, they proposed a fan charter, giving a variety of benefits to football fans up and down the pyramid. This includes capping all away tickets at £20, subsidizing away fans’ travel expenses, a plan to bring back safe standing in stadiums, and an away fan allocation of eight percent capacity of the home stadium (it is currently between five and ten percent, depending on the size of the stadium). Also included in the plan is a proposition to allocate six percent of Premier League gross revenues to pay for stadium improvements for teams up and down the football pyramid, calculated at about £100 per seat. This is beneficial to everyone, as it allows smaller clubs and clubs in the EFL to carry out necessary quality-of-life improvements on their older stadiums while also allowing bigger clubs in the Premier League to carry out renovations of their own without having to raise ticket prices. We all probably remember the mass walk out at Anfield in 2016 after Liverpool’s ownership announced a £77 match ticket and nearly £1,000 season ticket price for the following season, meant to help finance their expansion project of the Main Stand at Anfield. This provision now allows bigger clubs to expand or refurbish current stadiums or potentially finance new stadiums altogether without risking the backlash that comes with increasing ticket prices.

There is also a plan to revamp the loan system, allowing clubs to have up to 15 players out on loan domestically at one time and up to four at any one club in the country. I have some concerns about this, as this could encourage the larger teams to hoard talented young players and loan them out while reducing the opportunities in lower leagues for experienced pros to find contracts, but it does offer a more potent path of player development. The Premier League 2 (PL2), England’s main under-23 developmental league, has not necessarily been an outright failure, but it has not produced the results that was intended. The difference in level of intensity and talent between the PL2 and the Premier League is colossal, and this cannot be considered itself a competent developmental path. This does not just benefit the “Big Six”, but also clubs like Derby County, Everton, and Blackburn, who have very competent PL2 teams but lack other serious paths of talent development without reform of the loan system. It seems to be a nice compromise from the “clubs having B-teams in the lower leagues” idea that was proposed by Manchester City. Some concerns, but still a good idea. These are all good ideas, things that have been discussed at length over the years and, especially related to ticket prices and safe standing, have been a rallying cry for fan movements for the last decade. However, after these points, things take a decidedly more nefarious turn.

There are several propositions that fall into one common theme: limiting access. Access to money, access to European football, access to accolades, access to influence. Understanding these propositions from that lens is key in understanding the motivations of the “Big Six” to undertake this. In the old “carrot and stick” analogy, the previous points were the carrots, and these are the stick. Among these points are the reduction of the Premier League from 20 teams to 18 and introduction of a promotion/relegation playoff including the 16th-placed Premier League team and the third, fourth, and fifth-placed Championship teams. This is tied in with retaining the 24 team EFL leagues, meaning the amount of teams in the English professional football pyramid will be reduced from 92 to 90. Also included are proposals to abolish the League Cup and Community Shield, a restructuring of the distribution of the Premier League’s television revenue, the potential end of “parachute payments”, and a later start to the season to allow more time for pre-season friendlies, including a mandatory Premier League summer tournament for all top flight teams taking place once every five years. There is a lot to unpack here, so let us look at each point individually, as they all do fit into this theme of limiting access.

Firstly, the reduction in size of the Premier League and introduction of a promotion/relegation playoff clearly limits the access of lower league teams into the top flight and, as a result, the lucrative TV contracts in the top flight. The teams currently in the Premier League will have an easier time staying in the league, and the teams in the Championship will have a harder time coming up to the league. The teams that do make their way up now have a harder time staying in the league, given that less matches in an 18-team league creates much less room for error when fighting relegation. The promotion/relegation playoff, while a neat idea, also limits access as it stacks the deck in favor of the Premier League side surviving. If you look at the leagues where there is a promotion/relegation playoff, the top division side almost always stays up, as the gulf in class between the top division and second division side is enough to keep them up most of the time. That gap may be even wider in this case, given the financial disparities between the Premier League and Championship. This effectively removes one promotion spot in many cases, meaning the path from the Championship to the Premier League, which was already quite challenging, becomes that much more difficult. The move to dock two teams from the Premier League also removes two teams from the professional pyramid completely, which leaves us to wonder how they planned to figure out the unlucky two to earn that honor. I have seen many come out in favor of this, saying reducing the size of the league from 20 to 18 improves the quality as a whole, which I do not agree with. If anything, last season showed us that the quality at the bottom end of the table is improving and has been much better than it has been in the past. While the three relegated sides did not function as well as a team, they were clearly much more talented than many relegated teams we have seen before. I mean, Norwich beat Manchester City and Watford beat Liverpool. The teams involved in the relegation race, especially Brighton, West Ham, and Aston Villa, were still very talented teams. Removing two teams just makes it harder for those on the outside to get in, which is the main intention, instead of actually improving the league in any way. In the short term, this plan may give EFL clubs immediate access to relief funds, but their long-term goal of getting the Premier League money to balance their financial instability would be much harder to achieve.

The League Cup and Community Shield have become the favorite target for many of the big name managers in the Premier League, all concerned about “fixture congestion”. Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp in particular has been critical of the League Cup, criticizing the crowding of the match schedule that comes along with it and basically using the competition as an opportunity to field reserve and youth team players. Liverpool are lucky to have several talented youth team players that are able to be competitive, but it still shows Klopp’s aversion to the competition and lack of desire to take it seriously. To be fair, I do understand the competitive disadvantage for the top teams competing in European competitions, as England is now the only remaining nation containing a “Top Five” European league that has two major cup competitions instead of just one. However, proposing to remove it to add more friendlies over the summer? That is incredibly stupid, but again, it is about access. Taking a team to a final at Wembley is not only a great experience for fans, but it is also a great source of match-day revenue, especially for lower tier Premier League teams and teams in the EFL. It is much harder to get there as a “smaller” side, but that is the benefit of the meritocracy that English football is supposed to be. If your team is good enough, you will reap the rewards from it, and in a cup competition, it is easier for a team to make a run to a final than it is to slog out a league season. It is hard to remember, as a team outside of the “Big Six” has not won a cup competition in England since 2013, but winning the League Cup puts the winner into the Europa League qualifying rounds. It is a genuine and viable path into European competition for teams. As a result, it takes a European spot away from the top seven places, meaning if both cup competitions were won by a team outside of the top five, as was the case in 2013, then at least one of the “Big Six” would miss out on European competition. With the League Cup removed, that European spot automatically would go to the sixth-placed team, which is usually one of the “Big Six”. The pathway to Europe, and the financial boost that comes with European qualification, is now much more difficult, and we are removing the possibility of fantastic stories, such as when Wigan and Swansea played in the Europa League after winning the FA Cup and League Cup, respectively, in 2013. The meritocratic aspect of the sport is being removed in favor of shielding the teams with power from scrutiny and challenge.

Removing the Community Shield has nothing to do with attacks on English football meritocracy and not that much to do with removing access, but it just seems like a bad thing to do. Yes, the Community Shield is not exactly the most prestigious trophy in England, and it is usually between “Big Six” teams, as the league is almost always won by a “Big Six” side and no one outside of those teams has won the FA Cup since 2013. However, it is a great occasion for supporters. It is a trip to Wembley, a strong financial windfall for smaller teams but generally just an enjoyable time for fans regardless of the team they support. It is a much easier ticket to get than a FA Cup Final or League Cup Final ticket, making it easier for fans to enjoy a day out at Wembley at a relatively more reasonable price. It is for the fans, and football is supposed to be for the fans. The Community Shield also raises money for important charitable and community causes in Britain, and taking it away in favor of more preseason friendlies just does not sit well with me. It is a very small thing, one of the smallest issues I have in the massive horrid plan that is “Project Big Picture”, but it is something so simple and so inconsequential that it feels wrong to even discuss removing it.

Now, why do they want to remove the League Cup and Community Shield? Why do they want to start the season later? Fixture congestion is a somewhat understandable concern, as it is harder for teams to compete for their main goals when they have to contend with two cup competitions instead of one, but one of the justifications used is “a greater scope for pre-season friendlies” and a required Premier League Summer tournament every five years. They want to take away fixtures just to add even more fixtures? Remember: it’s about access. Yes, winning the League Cup as a “smaller” team is quite difficult, but if you are good enough, you can win it. That team realistically still has access to winning a major honor, as well as the financial windfall that making a Wembley final and qualifying for the Europa League comes with. For preseason friendly tournaments, it is a very closed system, reliant mostly on status and international brand recognition. The ability for a team like Liverpool to come to the United States in the summer and play in front of 70,000 people is massive for their global marketing efforts and ability to earn money from a highly lucrative market of viewers, but it is also something that only a handful of clubs in the world are able to do. Vikram and Rynaldy’s United fandom is the perfect tangible example of United’s effective marketing in Asia over a decade, which was spearheaded by preseason tournaments the club held on the continent. Pre-season tournaments, like the International Champions Cup in America, are not important in the slightest when it comes to the sporting impact on teams. In fact, the amount of global travel required might be more draining on players than if they just carried out a preseason in Europe. However, pre-season tournaments are huge for the financial and marketing abilities of big clubs, and that money is very difficult to get if you are not already one of the world’s biggest clubs, as the “Big Six” are. This preseason Premier League tournament, on top of sounding like it solves no problems when it comes to fixture congestion, is likely the owners’ “Holy Grail” idea, probably wanting to hold this tournament in America or Asia or the Middle East just so the big clubs have another injection of global marketing money that most other clubs will not get. They remove a meritocratic cup competition that allows smaller clubs a pathway into European competition in favor of extending preseasons to milk more money out of global markets. The rich get richer while the poor get poorer.

Now let us talk about money one more time. This plan aims to restructure the allocation of TV money to Premier League clubs. There was no official reallocation structure in the Telegraph article from what I could see, but some estimations believe it significantly widens the gap between TV money received from top of the league to bottom of the league. At this current moment, the allocation of TV money in the league is not equal, but there is not a very significant difference between top and bottom, and the amount of money they get is still staggering. Often, teams outside of the “Big Six” still receive as much, if not more, in TV revenue than some big clubs across Europe. The current allocation works at a ratio of about 1.8:1, meaning the club in first gets 1.8 times the amount of TV money as the team in 18th. The proposed reallocation, which adds a component that rewards finishes in the league over a three year period, could see that ratio widening to as much as 4:1, with that money allocation heavily weighted toward the top. With the added component of factoring in league table finishes over the last three seasons, it is clear that the “Big Six”, who more often than not finished in the top six places, would be receiving a significantly larger slice of the pie than anyone else in the league. Obviously this has major sporting impacts, as it rewards the already rich and powerful teams and makes it more difficult for teams outside of that “Big Six” bubble to break in, but it also has serious financial impact. While the Premier League’s TV revenue is staggeringly high, it is not as consequential for the “Big Six”. According to the Financial Times, TV revenue made up between 23 and 36 percent of total revenue for “Big Six” teams in the 2018/19 season, the most recent numbers I could find. For Wolves, Everton, and Leicester City, the teams that finished seventh, eighth, and ninth that season, respectively, the TV money makes up between 68 and 74 percent of their total revenue. For Brighton and Burnely, two of the lowest finishers that season who are still in the Premier League for the 2020/21 season, TV revenue makes up between 74 and 77 percent of total revenue. That gap is colossal, and this proposal would significantly limit a key revenue stream for teams outside of the “Big Six”. So not only have they made it more difficult to get into the Premier League, they have made it less profitable for doing so.

Related to this, there is also a proposal to end the league’s “parachute payments” to relegated teams. These are payments given to the three relegated teams amounting to about half of the TV revenue they would receive had they remained in the league, and these payments last for three years. The intention is to reduce the financial strain on relegated teams. As we saw in the paragraph before, it is clear that quite a few teams, especially at the lower end of the table, are very reliant on TV revenue, and while the redistribution of revenue to the EFL discussed previously will lessen the impact of relegation, relegation without parachute payments would still be a massive shock to the finances of many clubs. I have also seen people defend this proposition, arguing it removes teams who just go up to enjoy the payday and forces them to buckle down and invest to stay in the league, which is absolutely ludicrous. They also argue that it removes teams who constantly go down and come back up immediately with a financial advantage and opens chances for other clubs, which is not an argument reflected in reality. Firstly, “investing to stay in the league” is much easier said than done when we see the reality of the financial inequality in football, especially when you look at the amount in transfer fees and wages that is needed to compete at the highest level. Medium-to-long-term success for promoted teams requires either very innovative thinking, as shown by Bournemouth and Sheffield United, or serious financial backing, as shown by Wolves, Leicester City, and Leeds United. Should a team seriously invest and still get relegated, it risks ruining their finances and plunging the club into debt, something that is very hard for a club to recover from in this climate and especially so without the benefit of parachute payments. The “teams will just go up for the money, waltz through the Championship the next season because of the financial advantage, and go right back up” argument is ludicrous because that is just not the case. Of the little over 20 teams to suffer from relegation between the 2009/10 and 2018/19 seasons, only about half of them ever came back up, only five of them went down and came back up multiple times, and only seven of them are currently in the Premier League. Meanwhile, Portsmouth, Wigan, Hull City, Blackpool, Sunderland, Blackburn, and Bolton all currently play or have spent some time in League One or lower. Middlesbrough, Stoke City, QPR, and Birmingham have become consistent mid-to-lower-mid table Championship teams, while Reading and Cardiff City have come close to promotion but failed in the Playoffs. I know the “boing boing” reputation followed West Brom for ages, but this idea that teams can bounce around between the Championship and Premier League repeatedly just is not the case, especially with how competitive the Championship has become. Removing the parachute payments only makes the jolt of losing the Premier League revenue more violent, and it risks putting teams into difficult financial situations immediately. Access is key, and this makes it even more difficult for teams who have fallen out of the Premier League to get back in.

Now most of the things discussed previously, if done in exchange for financial relief for the EFL, have an impact on the big teams but also could provide some benefit to teams in the Premier League outside of the “Big Six”. The main proposition of this plan, however, does the exact opposite. The calling card, most discussed issue in this plan, and likely the most important aspect for the “Big Six” teams, is a restructure of the voting system among Premier League teams. Currently, the voting system allows every Premier League team to have one vote on approving or rejecting proposals, with 14 votes needed to approve any proposal. “Project Big Picture” would reduce the voting power in the league to just the “nine longest serving clubs”, which appears to be Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton, Southampton, and West Ham. Only those nine clubs are able to vote on policy in the Premier League and EFL, and only six of them need to vote in favor in order for a proposition to pass. There is a very clear problem with this proposition. This removes any sense of democracy from the adjudication of the league, giving the entirety of the decision-making power to the “Big Six” teams. What are they able to vote on? Well, just about anything, it appears. The Telegraph report gives examples of voting on amended rules and regulations, agreeing contracts, removal of the league’s chief executive, and a “wide-ranging veto” that includes the ability to veto club ownership moves. This did not seem to be an all-inclusive list, so there are other areas that are able to be voted on outside of this.

This is a horrible idea. I know I do not need to be the one to tell you, but this is a horrible idea. Giving the entirety of the power over governance in English football to the “Big Six” is terrifying, and it is a move that will work to tear down the foundations of English football. Remember the issue of access. The “Big Six” having the ability to veto club takeovers will likely be spun in a humanitarian way, especially after the fallout of the attempted Saudi takeover of Newcastle United, but it is a surefire way to guarantee as little competition as possible at the top of the league, maintaining their “Big Six” hegemony and ensuring that the largest slices of the TV revenue pie and all of the European competition revenue continues to flow to them and them alone. Had this structure been in place in the past, it is almost guaranteed that the Newcastle takeover attempt, as well as recent financial investment into Wolves and Everton, would have been vetoed. There has been interest circling around a Qatari takeover at Leeds United, and it is very likely that West Ham will find new ownership in the coming years as well, but this proposal would ensure the “Big Six” are able to veto any move that looks to challenge their dominance. They aim to increase the gap between themselves and the rest of the league, ensuring that no other club is able to do what the likes of Leicester and Wolves have been able to do in recent seasons in breaking into the European places. This veto power could leave clubs in very precarious situations. Newcastle and West Ham, for example, are two clubs that are not exactly rich. Mike Ashley is notorious for a lack of spending at Newcastle, and David Gold and David Sullivan at West Ham are suffering from financial difficulties that leave West Ham potentially facing relegation due to lack of sporting investment. Should either club find a possible buyer that can relieve their current struggles and help them at least retain consistent Premier League status, there is a very real possibility the move could be vetoed by the “Big Six”. This is an incredibly destructive power, but it is not even the scariest part of this proposal.

The most terrifying thing, the one part that has me fearing for the future of English football, is that there is seemingly no outer limit to this power the “Big Six” would have. The list of topics that could be voted on, mentioned by the Telegraph, is not an all-inclusive list. There is seemingly no check or barrier on the “Big Six”; they get unlimited power to govern English football as they see fit. What mechanism is there to stop them from removing the financial aid to the EFL set in place in this deal or just leaving the EFL to rot completely? Is there anything to stop them from adjusting the TV revenue distribution ratio again? What about stopping them from changing the laws of the game in a way that benefits them, such as the addition of more substitutions or another revision of the laws around loaning players? Can they be stopped from introducing B teams into the EFL? Is there anything to make them maintain reasonable ticket prices or the universal £20 ceiling on away tickets or anything promised in the fan charter? The answer to all of these questions is seemingly no. With this voting structure, there is absolutely nothing there to stop the “Big Six” from reneging on every promise laid out in this plan or acting completely within their own interests instead of the wider interests of the league, fans, and English football as a whole. There is nothing stopping the “Big Six” from using their newfound power to open an insurmountable financial and sporting gap between themselves and the rest of the league, ensuring that no other club is able to break into their pack or destroy their hegemony.

There is also nothing to stop the implementation of a European Super League.

While the support of the “Big Six” does not guarantee the implementation of this league, the “Big Six” being able to speak for the entire nation in backing the concept would go a long way in seeing it become a reality. They are also six of the ten richest clubs on the planet, and with that status comes a great deal of influence in the overall football political landscape. While the Premier League strongly condemned the idea previously, it is no secret that the financial benefit for the “Big Six” would be staggering should the idea be implemented. Should the tides change around the idea in a few years time, this voting method leaves it very likely to be approved in England. Should it be approved, it would lead to the widespread death of English football, as the money leaves the leagues to follow the Super League. This proposal does not directly mean we are on the road to this becoming a reality, but it is something that is very worrying in this regard, as well as for all of the other reasons listed above.

I said at the beginning that there is a reason the title to this piece is as strong as it is. It seems like not many people are addressing this proposal in the terms that it necessitates, likely out of a need to maintain journalistic impartiality, which is understandable. But let us call it like it is:

This is extortion.

The “Big Six” are using and taking advantage of the life-or-death struggles of the EFL and promising to relieve them in return for extended power and influence. At best, that is predatory loaning, and at worst, that is extortion.

You might think that there is no way this passes. The outrage will be too massive. The plan will be buried and never see the light of day. And in some cases, you are right. Since the Telegraph leak, the outrage has been strong, and it did initially appear that the plan would massively fail, not coming close to getting the 14 votes it needs to pass. However, that is kind of the point. This is not a business deal, this is a hostage negotiation. The “Big Six” are holding EFL relief funds hostage, only giving them up in exchange for this plan passing, and they are counting on the situation becoming more dire and key stakeholders eventually relenting to the pressure. While the outrage seemed to indicate the plan would be swiftly defeated, it has not yet gone away. John Cross in the Daily Mirror indicated that there are 10 Premier League teams in support of this plan now. The plan also has the backing of EFL Chairman Rick Parry, who views it as necessary to give the EFL the financial support it needs, as well as some chairmen of EFL clubs. The plan seems to also have the backing of the FA, who, conveniently, receive a one-time £100 million payment as part of this plan. It is not going away, and it could very well succeed. The plan is working, and the hostage takers are currently winning the negotiation. As the second wave of COVID hits the United Kingdom, it does not look like Parliament will allow fans back into football grounds, even in a reduced capacity, any time soon. As we get into the winter and into 2021, the financial situation will only get worse, and the bargaining power of the “Big Six” in this scenario only gets greater. This plan will hang around. This plan could very well pass.

Too often, I have seen people talking about this plan only cover the surface level, boiler plate issues. They characterize it as “Americanizing the British game” or they say some of the ideas are strong without really delving into the destructive capability of this plan. So here it is, almost every aspect of this plan and how destructive it truly is. The “Big Six” are not acting in benevolence to save the EFL, they are acting to take as much power, influence, and money as they can while limiting access to teams below them. It is not about the “Americanization” of football, it is about access and power. As an Everton fan, I would be ashamed if Farhad Moshiri voted in favor of this, even as one of the clubs that retains their voting rights. It sets an incredibly dangerous precedent and puts in motion legislation and policy that only extenuates the financial divide in English football.

Do I have a better idea? No. I recognize how difficult this decision must be for the EFL, and any financial avenue they choose will have them likely repaying a loan with significant interest to the British government or an American hedge fund or wherever else. However, this plan is not the solution. This does not even help the EFL in the long run. Yes, it gives them immediate financial benefit and yes, it lessens the financial gap between the EFL and Premier League with the revenue sharing model, but it continuously builds even more roadblocks that limits the ability and access of EFL and most Premier League teams to financial and sporting growth, and it does everything possible to maintain the hegemony of the “Big Six”. It also creates a voting policy that allows the “Big Six” to reverse all revenue sharing deals with the EFL and abandon them to rot, possibly even abandoning the entire football pyramid to rot should a European Super League come to fruition.

This is not benevolence. This is not charity. This is a deal with the devil. This is predatory. This is extortion.

Football is meant to be for the fans, for the common person, able to be a point of community bonding and cultural unity. Football is supposed to be more than just a business, even as important as the business aspect can be. This plan removes that completely. This would be English football selling its soul.

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