First there was “Project Restart” to get the Premier League up and running during the pandemic and now we have “Project No Start”. Its main sponsors, Manchester United and Liverpool, would rather you call it “Project Big Picture” (PBP), but whatever it’s labelled it’s going nowhere.
That’s according to one Premier League insider who described the power grab masquerading as altruism to me today as a “complete non-starter.”
The stumbling block, and to be more accurate it is an insurmountable wall, is the inconvenient one-club-one-vote democracy that is enshrined in the Premier League’s constitution. To get change off the ground United and Liverpool need another 12 of the 20 clubs to agree to their proposals and that is just not going to happen; not in their current form.
While some ideas are certainly not bad ones, few are new, and some are downright malevolent. To dress up PBP as a no-strings-attached gift to save the EFL is beyond misleading.
This is more about strengthening the hand of the big six and weakening the rest; blunting the ambitions of clubs like Aston Villa and West Brom who want to re-establish themselves in the Premier League and killing off the aspirations of many in the Championship.
The Premier League is so well watched and so well supported and therefore an attractive investment not because of the top six clubs but because of the soap opera as a whole. Because Villa can put seven past Liverpool, because Leeds have made it back into the big time, because United are struggling; there are many, many reasons.
“They (Man Utd and LFC) think the Premier League only exists as a successful entity because of them and they also believe the League’s revenue is theirs; it isn’t.” the source points out.
He goes on to say that the numbers don’t necessarily add up as PBP’s calculations are predicated on a 10% increase in income from broadcast deals next time around; some observers believe they could actually be dealing with a similar sized reduction.
The Premier League has often said privately over the past few months that it has been difficult to engage with the EFL chairman Rick Parry, especially when it comes to the bailout for the football pyramid. Now we all know why.
Parry has hammered his colours to the mast in supporting the rebel plan and it won’t be too long before someone who matters points out that his relationship with the Premier League from now on will be at the very best uncomfortable; at worst unworkable. That is not good for the real bigger picture. The pyramid will get its lifeline but just not the Parry way.
Today all 20 Premier League clubs will crowd around their laptops ahead of their first get-together since news broke of the proposal. There is no detailed agenda but there’s likely to be plenty said when it comes to Any Other Business.