Big picture or big swindle? | Liverpool join United in plan to overhaul English football

I make no apology for the following rant because I view this recent news as yet another move in a long line of things which have changed football from a game of the people, for the people and traditionally the working class, to enjoy, to a game which only the reasonably well off can afford to watch or attend and even then on a limited basis.

Britain is meant to be the home of our beloved game. You would never know it though. Want to watch a few games a season? Pay through the nose. Want to watch all your team's games? Pay an even higher amount but still you don't get all of them.

Want to watch lots of football, most games? You will be needing several very expensive subscriptions with several different companies and even then not all the Premier League games are broadcast.

If you took a total of all the money required to watch all broadcast games it would probably be cheaper to use it for a return flight to another country. Book an AirBnB property for your stay and then watch whichever game you liked while there on one of the channels which air every single match of the season for less than one month's subscription to a UK sports channel.

How about attending a game? For that you will need to take out a mortgage and so what have our club and Utd joined forces to propose? Is it to make things better value you ask. Nope, in what they're terming 'the big picture' they want to make things even more ridiculous - boot a few teams out of the league so it's just the largest, richest, ones left, and then get this, they want to run it themselves!

Hoorah! What a dandy idea, I mean what could possibly go wrong..... Well, left in control of their own devices this is what it would mean:

'Special status for the nine longest serving clubs – and the vote of only six of those “long-term shareholders” required to make major changes, including amending rules and regulations, agreeing contracts, removal of the chief executive, and a wide-ranging veto including on club ownership.'

There is quite a bit more to it which you can read by clicking the above quote/link - part of the proposal also includes scrapping the EFL Cup and Community shield, a financial help package for the lower leagues to support them through the Covid crisis and various other bits and pieces.

There are parts of the proposal which are quite good but for me this is dead simple, you don't put 'for profit' companies in charge of regulating themselves.

That's a sure-fire way to create a monstrosity of a thing and pay through the nose for the privilege.

I feel we have gone too far along this road already with the results as described in my opening paragraphs. I'd like to see us take some steps in the opposite direction and return the game to the people. Not place it in the hands of half a dozen rich elites.

So that's my view and lest you feel I'm on the fence, here are a few others.

UK Government

“We are surprised and disappointed that at a time of crisis when we have urged the top tiers of professional football to come together and finalise a deal to help lower league clubs there appear to be backroom deals being cooked up that would create a closed shot at the very top of the game.

“Sustainability, integrity and fair competition are absolutely paramount and anything that may undermine them is deeply troubling.

“Fans must be front of all our minds, and this shows why our fan led review of football governance will be so critical.”

Spirit of Shankly (and Arsenal, City and Chelsea supporters trusts - joint statement)

"The fans we represent are fortunate to support clubs that regularly secure the largest financial revenues in the Premier League. But all of us understand that football doesn’t work in isolation.

"It’s a family. It requires a fair share of resources to ensure that the Premier League is competitive to watch and that the lower leagues flourish as part of our national game.

"While the six clubs we support are widely reported to be the instigators of Project Big Picture, it is important we state very clearly that we do not support the proposals in their current form.

"The Premier League has rightly said that all stakeholders should be involved in discussions about the future of the game.

"And yet supporters have not had the courtesy of any communication or consultation about these plans before they were published last Sunday, despite allegedly being three years in the making.

"By floating this latest plan, those behind it are acknowledging football needs to be reformed. It’s something we have been saying for many years. There are some suggestions in this plan that have merit.

"But we are totally opposed to concentrating power in the hands of six billionaire owners and departing from the one club, one vote and collective ethos of the Premier League.

"This part of the proposal must be dropped immediately if other elements are to be given serious consideration.

"We welcome the Government reiterating its plan for a supporter-led review into football governance.

"This needs to happen as a matter of urgency and supporter groups must be consulted on the terms of reference.

"These terms must include how fans are to be given a greater say in the running of their clubs and a chance to be involved in ownership structures.

"We call on the Government and football authorities to now work urgently to secure a sustainable future for all clubs, many of which face serious threats to their existence as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We also expect both parties to make a genuine commitment to reform and to listen to our members. Fans are the lifeblood of the game. We need to be heard as soon as possible."

Romper

"I saw a few headlines about LFC and ManU leading the way in a £250m bailout for the lower leagues and scrapping the Cardboard Cup... Now from that info it sounds brilliant and a tip of the hat to those supporting the idea...

BUT after speaking to a few people, I have learnt that yes that's the good bits but it's covering a rather more evil plan.

Apparently part of this deal would entitle the "top 6" clubs plus one or two others to get shareholder status in the league, allowing them the right to vote against another club being bought out, altering tv deals and so on.

In other words the rich clubs just get richer and if the information being touted around is even 60% true it's rather shameful and outright disgraceful of our club and every other club involved.

The premise of boosting the financial aid to the lower leagues and reducing the fixtures for the PL teams is one I would fully support and applaud but the more sinister side where the big boys are trying to throw their weight around and monopolise English football is appalling.

In all truth if this goes through I don't know how I'll feel about the game and more so the club I love."

I think all three statements sum things up nicely but please leave your thoughts below. All views welcome: for, against or anywhere in between. It will be good to hear everyone's take on what could be the biggest shake-up to English football since the Premier League itself was introduced more than a quarter of a century ago.
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