Man United and Liverpool 'driving forces behind 'Project Big Picture'

An 18-team Premier League, axe the League Cup and Community Shield and ‘special status’ for the top-flight’s longest-serving sides… the changes outlined in ‘Project Big Picture’ with Manchester United and Liverpool the ‘driving forces’ behind shake-up

  • Liverpool and Manchester United are leading a revolutionary top-flight project 
  • Two teams would be cut from the current Premier League for an 18-team league 
  • There are also plans for a £250m coronavirus rescue package for the EFL
  • The Community Shield curtain-raiser is set to be scrapped with the League Cup

Liverpool and Manchester United are at the forefront of proposals for an unprecedented overhaul of English football dubbed ‘Project Big Picture’, according to reports.

The two sides are sworn rivals but The Daily Telegraph state they have decided to cooperate on plans that will drastically change the outlook of the game in England.

The report claims the plans call for the Premier League to become an 18-team league, down from the 20 that currently compete in the top-flight, while a £250million coronavirus rescue package would be made available to the EFL to help them through the ongoing pandemic.

Liverpool are among the leading forces behind a revolution in plans for English football

The Reds have also been joined by rivals Manchester United in backing the radical proposals

The two clubs are arch rivals but United (above) and Liverpool are set to change the game

They have called for the League Cup – won by Manchester City last season – to be scrapped

The curtain-raising Community Shield – won by Arsenal in August – is also set to be cast aside

The plans call for the top-flight to cut the number of sides in the league from 20 down to 18

1) £250million sent to EFL 

2) Special status for the nine longest serving clubs – and the vote of only six of those ‘long-term shareholders’ required to make major changes, Premier League to go to 18 clubs from 20

3) £100m one-off gift to the FA to maintain its sustainability, including at grassroots level

4) 8.5 per cent of annual net Premier League revenue to go on operating costs and ‘good causes’ including the FA

5) From the remainder, 25 per cent of all combined Premier League and Football League revenues to go to the EFL clubs

6) Six per cent of Premier League gross revenues to pay for stadium improvements across the top four divisions, calculated at £100 per seat

7) New rules for the distribution of Premier League television income both overseas and domestic

8) League Cup and the Community Shield abolished

9) 24 clubs each in the Championship, League One and League Two to reduce 92 professional game clubs to 90

10) A women’s professional league independent of the Premier League or the FA

11) Two sides automatically relegated from the Premier League every season and the top two Championship teams promoted. 

12) The 16th place Premier League club in a play-off tournament with the Championship’s third, fourth and fifth placed teams.

13) Financial fair play regulations in line with Uefa, and full access for Premier League executive to club accounts

14) A fan charter including capping of away tickets at £20, and a focus on a return to safe standing

15) Later Premier League start in August to give greater scope for pre-season friendlies

16) 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

The report also claims 25 per cent of the Premier League’s annual revenue will go to clubs lower down the English football pyramid, while there would also be an outlay of £100m to aid with the FA’s sustainability.

However, the plans are apparently seeking for both the League Cup and the curtain-raising Community Shield to be scrapped, while other discussions are reported to have taken place that have focused on the League Cup staying as it is but without European participation coming as a final reward.

The Telegraph claim these proposals have been recorded in a so-called working document called ‘Revitalisation’, written by Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports Group and supported by their counterparts at Old Trafford. 

The report adds the two clubs expect the remaining so-called ‘Big Six’ sides – Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham – all to endorse their plans.

The plans also allegedly call for controlling power in the league to be put in the hands of just nine top-flight clubs with the longest running stay, which would currently see Everton, Southampton and West Ham join the other six already mentioned.

Those nine sides would also allegedly be allowed to play more games in the proposed expanded Champions League that is scheduled for its inaugural campaign in the 2024/25 season.

The nine sides would allegedly be referred to as having ‘long-term shareholder status’ with unprecedented power, and votes of just six of them would allegedly be required to make changes.

That would also include a veto to prevent a new owner taking over a club.

The one-club, one-vote principle in the Premier League and the threshold of 14 votes to pass decisions and regulation changes are also set to be abolished.

There is also set to be a rethink on promotion from the Championship, and while two automatic promotion places for second-tier clubs would remain, the third, fourth and fifth-placed clubs would compete in a play-off tournament against whichever side finishes 16th in the Premier League. 

This is slightly reminiscent to the model currently adopted in the Bundesliga, where the third-place team in the German second division faces the side that finished 16th in the top-flight. 

As well as the Premier League dropping from the current 20 side to 18, the plans call for only 24 clubs each in the Championship, League One and League Two for a total of 90 throughout English leagues, a reduction of two from the current 92 professional clubs.

The plan has reportedly received the backing of supported by the EFL chairman Rick Parry who has held talks with both Liverpool and United’s owners since discussions on the project began in 2017.

They have reportedly gained pace ever since football’s finances were plunged into drastic turmoil following the outbreak of the pandemic and reports that fans may not return to stadiums until March at the earliest to bring back matchday revenue to somewhere near normality.

United and Liverpool are reportedly prepared to engage in a debate on this, but are also said to be eager for their proposals to be put into action at the earliest available date. 

John W Henry and Liverpool’s Fenway Sports Group owners are keen to see plans in action

However, Liverpool and United are expecting to receive endorsement from City for the plans

Tottenham would also be part of the top six clubs who are expected to back the proposals

Chelsea are one of the other top-six sides Liverpool and United are expecting support from

City, Chelsea and even Everton (above) would be part of a nine-club group to hold all power

Liverpool and United’s owners have allegedly held conversations with EFL chairman Rick Parry

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