FA withdrew from Project Big Picture talks due to its ‘aim of concentrating power in hands of a few clubs’


Football Association chairman Greg Clarke said he had been involved in initial talks surrounding Project Big Picture but walked away after it became clear that “the principal aim of these discussions became the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few clubs”.

In an open letter, Clarke said that there “is more to our game than economics” and insisted English football has “a fantastic league structure and pyramid that is the envy of the world”. 

Project Big Picture, spearheaded by EFL chief Rick Parry and Liverpool owner John W Henry, has been met with a fiercely divided response, with The Football Supporters’ Association earlier describing the proposed £250m bailout of the Football League as a “sugar-coated cyanide pill”. Tranmere Rovers chairman Mark Palios went as far as to urge the government to intervene and block the plan.

In the letter, Clarke wrote: “With the knowledge of senior Board members and our CEO, I participated in the early stages of discussions which were disclosed last weekend. 

“However, in late spring, when 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, I of course, discontinued my involvement and counselled a more consensus-based approach involving all Premier League clubs and its Chair and CEO. Our game needs to continually seek to improve but benefits need to be shared.

“We, the FA Board and Council, have to ensure that any changes would be to the long-term benefit of the whole of football and we have substantial controls to help ensure that the best interests of the game are served by any new proposals.

“In addition, to the Special Share in the Premier League, which prevents certain changes being made to the constitution without the FA’s consent, it is also 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. Additionally, UEFA look to us to nominate the league, and therefore the clubs, that will play in their competitions.

“Let’s continue to work together to determine what is best for English football, with full dialogue between all key stakeholders. However, there is more to our game than economics. Change must benefit clubs, fans and players; not just selective balance sheets. In these difficult times unity, transparency and common purpose must override the interests of the few.”

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