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Project Big Picture: Premier League owner claims only six clubs back proposals

A Premier League club owner has told Sky Sports News only six top-flight teams are in favour of Project Big Picture proposals, ahead of a shareholder meeting on Wednesday.

All 20 Premier League clubs will be involved in a virtual meeting to discuss the proposals at 11am.

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“We are 100 per cent against the plans,” he said. “If there was a vote now I would be surprised if more than six supported it. I can guarantee you the majority of club owners are against it.

“Who knows, somebody might be able to come up with a compromise but there is no way we could support what’s on the table now.”

The proposals would give special status and preferred votes to the so-called big six clubs – Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham.

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The EFL has confirmed the majority of its clubs support Project Big Picture plans following meetings with chairman Rick Parry.

Each division held its own individual talks with the chairman of the EFL on Tuesday and the “overwhelming majority” of EFL clubs have indicated a willingness to discuss the proposals.

A statement from the EFL said: “The proposals, which look to address the long-term economic imbalance across the football pyramid while also addressing the short-term financial need created as a result of Covid-19, received strong support, with an overwhelming majority of clubs indicating a willingness to discuss the proposals further on the basis that the primary benefits for the future of the English pyramid are clear.

“It was agreed that the proposals must be addressed and discussed in detail across all stakeholders for the benefit of the English game, and while there are no specific timescales for what happens next, there is a clear need for a progress in this matter as quickly as practically possible.”

'Project Big Picture' proposals

Eleven EFL clubs have told Sky Sports News they could go out of business by the end of the season without fans and without a financial bailout.

Parry is a supporter of the controversial Project Big Picture proposal, a detailed plan which would see the biggest restructure of the Premier League since its conception in 1992 but one which is opposed by fans of the division’s ‘big-six’ teams.

Under the plan, income to lower-league clubs would increase, as well as an advanced £250m parachute payment.

However, there are concerns that Parry’s remarks have frustrated the Premier League and that could jeopardise a potential bailout. One board member at a Premier League club says the feeling among the majority of teams in the division is that Parry should now resign.

Villa chief: Premier League model changes a concern

Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow says he is concerned about potential changes to a successful Premier League model which could come from Project Big Picture.

“I don’t know so much about Premier League Big Picture. I’m looking forward to the Premier League meeting today to hear the details from Manchester United and Liverpool,” Purslow told Sky Sports News.

“I must say I would be concerned about changes to such a successful and commercially outstanding league at a time when football needs all the success it can get to deal with financial problems.”

When asked if clubs like Aston Villa were being pushed into the proposals, Purslow replied: “Not at all. This plan has come out in the media, it has not been discussed, it will be today.

“We have an effective mechanism for discussing things, all 20 clubs have an equal five per cent share in the league, we meet frequently. The unity of the league is its strength.

“After a healthy discussion we will see two things; everyone in the Premier League understands the short-term priority is to help cash problems further down the pyramid, over the long term it will be a catalyst for a much broader discussion on the structure of English football.

“I feel strongly that we need to look at the relationship between the Premier League and the Championship and other long-standing issues which predate the pandemic.

“I think we will see a willingness to get those issues on a table. What is unusual about this project is that it is being discussed by the head of the EFL and two owners outside of the boardroom – that’s not the way I would have gone about it.”

Six Championship clubs fear for survival

Six Championship clubs have told Sky Sports News that if there is no financial bailout forthcoming they fear for the survival of their club.

In a survey carried out by Sky Sports News, eight clubs also say they have, or will have to, make club staff redundant.

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Eighty-five per cent of League Two clubs worries about finance

Thirteen League Two clubs responded to a Sky Sports News survey and 85 per cent said they were worried about their current financial situation. Ninety-two per cent were not satisfied with the government’s efforts to get fans back into stadiums.

Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace told Sky Sports News: “We have already got our house in order in terms of players. But I think a one-off shot in the arm to put things right and set us on the road to sustainability would be very welcome.

“The Government has mandated the Premier League to sort this. Rick Parry has said the definition of ‘sort this’ is £250m. Whether that comes with strings or as part of a bigger picture is another matter.

“But I think we are running out of time. It will probably be the end of this year before clubs start getting themselves in serious trouble.”

All but two clubs that responded to the survey felt the Premier League and the Government should offer financial assistance.

It was hoped that fans would be back in stadiums by the start of October, but plans were put on hold as coronavirus cases across the UK started to rise.

Ticket money is crucial to lower-league clubs and with their main outgoing being players’ wages, many are now reliant on their owners to foot the bill to keep them afloat.

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