Project Big Picture: Rebuilding the Pyramid and Pulling up the Ladder

Joe D Reid

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I did a quick search and didn't see any discussion of this. Given that it has driven most football-adjacent media in the UK into a Very English Swivet Indeed, I thought it merited a thread. Boiled way, way down, Project Big Picture is a plan developed by JWH and the Glazers to reshape the structure of English league pyramid. It has apparently been approved, either in detail or in outline, by the EFL. It has two major parts: a change in the funding of the EFL and a change in the governance of the EPL.

EFL Changes
  • The Premier League would provide short-term financial support for teams in lower divisions, to the tune of 250MM pounds. The FA would also get 100MM, presumably just to shut them up for a bit.
  • In the future, the EPL would jointly negotiate future TV rights with the EFL divisions. The EFL would get 25% of the pie, thus guaranteeing lower division clubs a stream of revenue over the long term.
  • Parachute payments would be abolished on the theory that clubs wouldn't see as dramatic a revenue drop off through relegation.
EPL Changes
  • The nine longest-tenured EPL clubs (Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Everton, Southampton (!) and West Ham (!!)) would essentially act as a Star Chamber with the EPL, with the ability to create new rules, approve TV deals, veto new owners, and maybe some other stuff as long as 6 of the 9 agreed. The other EPL clubs could not override those decisions even if all of them disagreed.
  • Speaking of "all of them," the EPL would shrink from 20 teams to 18, leaving more schedule space for an expanded Champions League in the future.
  • The League Cup would be eliminated as well (for those of you following my work in the other thread, I like this idea because it means Newcastle will get to keep the trophy after they win this year and the competition is eliminated).
There may be other changes, too--nobody seems to be 100% on the details.

Reaction has been plentiful. Everybody seemed to hate it at first, but the places I read (mainly the Guardian) are starting to come around to the idea that making the EPL even more oligarchic than it already is might be a reasonable price to pay to save the pyramid. I am operating at the very limit of my understanding of these issues, so I'd be curious to hear what people think.
 

swiftaw

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Does it say what happens if any of the 9 gets relegated? The big 6 aren't in much danger, but the other 3 listed have all flirted with relegation in recent years.
 

Kliq

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To me, this seems like the big clubs trying to pounce on the opportunity COVID has given them by really handicapping the smaller clubs in lower divisions, by offering them a short-term bailout in order to ultimately wield even more power than they already do, ensuring that they remain the strongest, wealthiest teams in the long-term. I don't have any real answers to the quagmire that is the EFL, but as an American sports fan, the most frustrating part about soccer is the lack of parity and this just seems like another step toward ensuring that the rich stay rich.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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To me, this seems like the big clubs trying to pounce on the opportunity COVID has given them by really handicapping the smaller clubs in lower divisions, by offering them a short-term bailout in order to ultimately wield even more power than they already do, ensuring that they remain the strongest, wealthiest teams in the long-term. I don't have any real answers to the quagmire that is the EFL, but as an American sports fan, the most frustrating part about soccer is the lack of parity and this just seems like another step toward ensuring that the rich stay rich.
Yup, its an opportunistic power grab. From what I understand, this proposal has been long in development but I imagine that its proponents clearly see the opportunity presented by Covid right now.

The most obvious part is the restricted nine member ruling council. But I think its also worth noting that clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United, with very high levels of revenue from outside the Premier League, will be least affected by giving 25% of EPL revenues away. Premier League clubs that rely relatively more on that domestic TV revenue, in contrast, will take a huge hit. This will adversely affect competitive balance within the Premier League and undermine its most attractive feature, that just about any club can plausibly get a result in any fixture.

Liverpool and United have basically negotiated to give other Premier League clubs' money away, and in return those clubs get to give up any power to influence the future of the league (including huge future decisions about how the remaining 75% of revenue is apportioned within the league and how the domestic competition is balanced or adjusted in light of potential changes at the European level). Some deal.
 
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Mighty Joe Young

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The Athletic has a good writeup on this .. https://theathletic.com/2130676/2020/10/12/nuclear-war-liverpool-manchester-united-rick-parry-premier-league-project-big-picture/?source=user_shared_article

The good:

- enhanced revenue sharing .. I don’t believe it’s true that the top clubs are giving up less ,. They generate the lions share of TV revenue as it’s based on the number of TV appearances I think.
- smaller league .. there are just too many games between the domestic cups and Europe.
- love the idea of the third relegated team entering the Championship playoffs. I believe the Bundesliga does this.
-more European matches due to an expanded Champions League .. plus the proposed new third Euro competition.

The bad:

The governing council .. this is just stupid and is never going to be approved. It’s incredibly arrogant to even put this on the table. I can see why the bIg six want it .. but it ain’t happening. Mind you they may still try - using the threat of a break away Euro Super League.

Seems to me it’s got a chance if they give up the idea of the Big Six running things.

edit: I wonder if the tipping point was the refusal of the minnows to approve the five substitutes rule this year ..
 
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Cellar-Door

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Yeah, I will tell you that the West Ham board I frequent despises this proposal, and it seems so do the supporters of basically every club outside the top 6.

Basically it's a fancy way for the top 6 to control the entire PL system, make more money (they don't really lose much on the PL portion and they get to have a bunch of extra big money friendlies, plus get foreign streaming for 8 matches... which they will inevitably increase to 10 then 12, then 14 etc.) they also get a mortal lock on deciding who gets to buy clubs, which means no more Wolves and certainly no new Man City.

It's a complete power grab and establishment of a truly permanent power split in the PL, wrapped in the fig leaf of relief for the lower levels (really that money is coming not from the top 6, but the bottom of the PL).

The FA can't allow it, and I don't think they will. This is Henry and Glazer thinking they're clever, when really they are misreading the room.
 

teddykgb

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I haven’t seen many fans of top 6 clubs who are a fan either tbh. It’s a nakedly transparent anti competitive power grab with a few good things thrown in so the owners of imperiled clubs will sign away their rights.

The big clubs in global football like to go on and on about sustainability but as is usual they continue to try to make rules to protect themselves. From a business standpoint you can understand it. A club like United has taken on a lot of debt which is basically leveraged against the value of the club. Truthfully not having a go at United on this but their entire finances aren’t really viable if they can’t have smooth, consistent revenue streams year over year. But they miss when they propose this stuff because I’m not sure they realize that the propspect of a fall from grace os what makes the product so compelling. A bad season can lead to a bad few years and a bad few years can have you in a death spiral. I understand why the CEOs and CFOs don’t want this but this sport’s brutality of promotion and relegation has such a long tradition and even with all of the globalization the clubs are still considered representatives of their regions. It probably isn’t a coincidence and it certainly has been noticed by the fan groups I’ve read that this comes from the American owners where franchises give owners tremendous power and protection.
As a City fan I wish they had been out in front of being against this. It took an extremely improbable bit of good fortune to have City purchased by an incredibly wealthy owner or else City would be no different from a bunch of other clubs affected by this
 
I dunno...I'm not in favor of everything in the proposal, but I think it's probably pointing in the right direction, and there's probably room for negotiating some of the more objectionable issues (like the Gang of Nine). If nothing else, it's certainly interesting to see a proposal like this being made, and to see someone at least sounding serious about bailing out the lower league clubs who may well be dead in the water without a serious influx of cash. Not that the lower-league clubs have a God-given right to be as integral to the English pyramid as they are - clubs in the fourth tier in England seem to matter much more than their equivalents in Serie C2 or the equivalent leagues in Spain or Germany, etc. - but COVID has been a real kick in the nuts, and I don't think anyone wants to so many clubs peter out in these sorts of circumstances.

Personally, I almost want to see a European Super League (henceforth "ESL") happen - in part because I think such a concept might implode in spectacular fashion. The Champions League works in large part because of how matches against Real Madrid or Juventus sit alongside matches against Burnley or Brighton in a club's the fixture list; if you're feasting on nothing but European giants all the time - particularly if the ESL proves to be a closed system with no promotion or relegation - eventually you're going to get indigestion. That said, if an ESL can be created that does involve promotion and relegation, I think it could actually reinvigorate domestic football as well. Imagine an 18-team ESL with 3 clubs from each of Spain/England/Germany (i.e., the countries with the best three UEFA club coefficients), 2 clubs from Italy/France and single clubs from 5 other countries: at the end of the season, the lowest club in the table from each of the five countries with multiple clubs in the ESL automatically gets relegated and is replaced by the domestic champion from those leagues, while two or three worst clubs in the table from the other five countries would be relegated and replaced by domestic champions of other countries as determined by an end-of-season playoff of some sort. (Or perhaps you have an "ESL 2" of the best clubs from the smaller countries that runs beneath the ESL 1 - similar to the "Atlantic League" proposal that was floating around a while ago - and that determines which clubs get promoted.) The ESL clubs would still play in the FA Cup or its equivalent and retain some domestic contact there, and those trophies might become more meaningful given how difficult it'll be to actually win the ESL in any given season; meanwhile, some less fancied clubs would wind up having a shot to win their domestic leagues, with the PSG/Bayern type behemoths no longer in the way.

I know that's quite a flight of fancy, but strictly from a sporting perspective, that sort of alternative football landscape would really fascinate me, and it would make domestic power grabs like Project Big Picture less relevant, simply by shifting the monetary center of gravity to a higher plane of existence - where it may or may not ultimately stay. An ESL seems bound to happen eventually; if it happens along the lines of what I've described, it may well work, whereas I can't imagine a more closed system ultimately will. Either way, I feel the timing is right for the next big European football shake-up.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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This is a break down of Premier League tv and prize money for 2019/20


There is an equal share of ~32m to each club .. plus another payout based on tv appearances which ranged from Norwich at 11m up to Liverpool at 33m .. So, I suppose equitable revenue sharing would be in the details. If they just cut the base fee by 20% then I suppose it hurts the minnows more .l but if it’s the total then the big clubs would be losing more.
 

Kliq

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I haven’t seen many fans of top 6 clubs who are a fan either tbh. It’s a nakedly transparent anti competitive power grab with a few good things thrown in so the owners of imperiled clubs will sign away their rights.

The big clubs in global football like to go on and on about sustainability but as is usual they continue to try to make rules to protect themselves. From a business standpoint you can understand it. A club like United has taken on a lot of debt which is basically leveraged against the value of the club. Truthfully not having a go at United on this but their entire finances aren’t really viable if they can’t have smooth, consistent revenue streams year over year. But they miss when they propose this stuff because I’m not sure they realize that the propspect of a fall from grace os what makes the product so compelling. A bad season can lead to a bad few years and a bad few years can have you in a death spiral. I understand why the CEOs and CFOs don’t want this but this sport’s brutality of promotion and relegation has such a long tradition and even with all of the globalization the clubs are still considered representatives of their regions. It probably isn’t a coincidence and it certainly has been noticed by the fan groups I’ve read that this comes from the American owners where franchises give owners tremendous power and protection.
As a City fan I wish they had been out in front of being against this. It took an extremely improbable bit of good fortune to have City purchased by an incredibly wealthy owner or else City would be no different from a bunch of other clubs affected by this
I agree with this take. It was a common refrain for people to talk about how when Leeds was coming back up that it was a tragedy of sorts that a big club with their kind of history had fallen out of the top tier for so long. While I suppose for the fans that is true, the fact that a club that was once in a powerful position like Leeds could fall down a hole due to mismanagement is an important aspect of competitive balance. The game shouldn't be idiot-proof so that the current powerful teams can't be knocked off their perch, although in a lot of leagues that has become the norm. To an extent this already exists, if Southampton made the same kind of mistakes that clubs like Arsenal, Everton or Man U have made (to scale) they would have been relegated a long time ago, but because they have been relatively well-managed and made smart moves, they have been able to stay up and remain competitive. The more you go to protect the big teams, you remove a competitive element from the game by failing to punish teams that make mistakes.

I say this of course, having had just watched the Lakers fuck up their team for a decade only for them to magically become champions because LeBron wanted to live in LA.
 

Joe D Reid

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This is a break down of Premier League tv and prize money for 2019/20


There is an equal share of ~32m to each club .. plus another payout based on tv appearances which ranged from Norwich at 11m up to Liverpool at 33m .. So, I suppose equitable revenue sharing would be in the details. If they just cut the base fee by 20% then I suppose it hurts the minnows more .l but if it’s the total then the big clubs would be losing more.
The big clubs feel like they can make up the money by freeing up the extra dates for other things (and sharing the PL's 75% cut with two fewer teams). So I think it's both true that the big clubs would be giving up some money if you look *just* at this proposal, AND that at the end of the day it's the bottom half of the PL which would end up in a worse place overall. The question seems to be whether there is any other viable way to bail out the rest of the pyramid.
 

67YAZ

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I agree with this take. It was a common refrain for people to talk about how when Leeds was coming back up that it was a tragedy of sorts that a big club with their kind of history had fallen out of the top tier for so long. While I suppose for the fans that is true, the fact that a club that was once in a powerful position like Leeds could fall down a hole due to mismanagement is an important aspect of competitive balance. The game shouldn't be idiot-proof so that the current powerful teams can't be knocked off their perch, although in a lot of leagues that has become the norm. To an extent this already exists, if Southampton made the same kind of mistakes that clubs like Arsenal, Everton or Man U have made (to scale) they would have been relegated a long time ago, but because they have been relatively well-managed and made smart moves, they have been able to stay up and remain competitive. The more you go to protect the big teams, you remove a competitive element from the game by failing to punish teams that make mistakes.

I say this of course, having had just watched the Lakers fuck up their team for a decade only for them to magically become champions because LeBron wanted to live in LA.
Certainly, a big chunk of fans feel this way. But the clubs business offices see that winning the UCL and league drive shirt sales, TV appearances, Twitter followers, partnership deals, and all that around the globe. In the abstract, a fall from grace has value in that it makes for entertaining viewing. But in the ledger book, wining big cups begets revenues. This is not a endorsement of the view, but my sense of why the ESL and this proposal are so compelling to the mega-clubs. So any opportunity to limit the downside and increase the likelihood of winning big cups is going to get a long look in the most lavish board rooms.
 

mikeford

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The Big 6 + 3 provision really makes this seem like a non-starter. Why not just form the European superleague they've been talking about for a decade+ instead?

Also worth noting: Aston Villa and Newcastle have spent more season in the Premier League than Man City has. They get no seat at the table though?
 

Mighty Joe Young

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The big clubs feel like they can make up the money by freeing up the extra dates for other things (and sharing the PL's 75% cut with two fewer teams). So I think it's both true that the big clubs would be giving up some money if you look *just* at this proposal, AND that at the end of the day it's the bottom half of the PL which would end up in a worse place overall. The question seems to be whether there is any other viable way to bail out the rest of the pyramid.
You are correct of course .. the Gang of Nine are probably not going to lose a nickel (or shilling) .. a preseason friendly in Singapore or Japan or America makes a fortune for the participants. Not to mention an expanded UCL.

But one hopes they don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. There’s lots of good stuff in those proposals.

The problem with the Gang of Nine is, IMO more optics than anything else. There is no parity in European football and that‘s not going to change anytime soon. The proposal just kind of puts a (very obnoxious, in your face peasants) rubber stamp on it. Teddy is correct in that it’s just the big six trying to preserve their status. That’s what FFP is all about.
 

Section30

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What is a better option for the lower level teams? I have been reading about teams folding this year that have been around for 100+ years.

This is a proposal, it can be modified. Maybe the 9 team star chamber was added to have something to back off from and still get what they want.

I wonder how much of this is tied into the recent announcement of Fenway Sports Group going public and raising a bundle of money to expand into other sports/teams.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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What is a better option for the lower level teams? I have been reading about teams folding this year that have been around for 100+ years.

This is a proposal, it can be modified. Maybe the 9 team star chamber was added to have something to back off from and still get what they want.

I wonder how much of this is tied into the recent announcement of Fenway Sports Group going public and raising a bundle of money to expand into other sports/teams.
By all accounts this is Rick Parry’s baby .. he’s been stumping for something similar for years (the revenue sharing) .. he always had to rope in PL support and who better than American based owners ..sports businesses not married to decades of Old World inertia. I agree the Nine is a Nice to Have.
 

OCST

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I'm sympathetic to the idea that the PL should be cut to 18. Population of England + Wales is ~ 60M, or about 18% of the US population. That's not much to support 20 top-flight teams, with the result of teams like Huddersfield and West Browmich competing with mega-sides.

I'm also sympathetic to cutting the League Cup, even though Everton are gunning for it this year.

The rest - meh.
 

InstaFace

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I'm curious what people would come up with, for a multi-tier pyramid proposal that you think would:

1) Maintain competitiveness within each tier
2) Not demolish relegated teams financially
3) Still punish poorly-managed teams
4) Be, if a drop in revenue for the big teams, at least not such a huge one that they'd laugh you out of the room

The whole reason the EPL broke off and formed their own league was because they were generating the lion's share of the profits but not getting proportional value. As a result of doing so, they negotiated hugely rich contracts, grew into the most popular league in the world, and have become basically a worldwide all-star league that pays the most money and attracts the best talent. It's paid off hugely for them, for English football, and frankly for football as a whole. There is an element of "a rising tide lifts all boats" that is worth considering here, much like how dynasties in the pre-salary-cap NFL grew the sport.

Just to take one small piece of this as an example: maybe the League Cup should exclude from entry any team that has won it in the previous 10 years. That would exclude 4 of the Big 6, and mean more teams had a legit chance to win hardware. But just as important, it would mean that for the truly big teams who have bigger fish to fry and the worst schedule congestion problems, they'd be excluded from entering, so they need not make an excuse to decline it.
 

candylandriots

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It’s the nine longest tenured clubs .. when West Ham gets relegated it’s the next one up on the list.
Checks notes...[Crystal Palace!?!]

Hmmm...Maybe this isn't so bad?

No it's bad. Well the 9 team thing. I agree that there are some good things here, but the group of 9 thing sure seems like a negotiating ploy at best. The 6 team veto is extremely odious.

Would be interesting to think about who might have been relegated under an 18 team PL though. I'm certain Palace would have been back in the Championship at least once, and maybe with the more competitive league, one of the bigger teams would have gone down too.
 
Project Big Picture is a dead letter now:
By the by, I don't quite understand why the League Cup needs to be axed in the name of fixture congestion. Nobody is forcing any club to field a full-strength side, and often the League Cup - and, to a lesser extent, the FA Cup - is a useful competition for giving match time to fringe players in a squad. I wonder if bigger clubs would even perhaps contemplate naming one of their assistant managers (or the U21 manager) their "Cup Manager", leaving the main boss to focus on the league and pick which players should be made available for the cups but otherwise not being distracted by them?
 
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Project Big Picture is a dead letter now:
By the by, I don't quite understand why the League Cup needs to be axed in the name of fixture congestion. Nobody is forcing any club to field a full-strength side, and often the League Cup - and, to a lesser extent, the FA Cup - is a useful competition for giving match time to fringe players in a squad. I wonder if bigger clubs would even perhaps contemplate naming one of their assistant managers (or the U21 manager) their "Cup Manager", leaving the main boss to focus on the league and pick which players should be made available for the cups but otherwise not being distracted by them?
Project Big Picture is a dead letter now:
By the by, I don't quite understand why the League Cup needs to be axed in the name of fixture congestion. Nobody is forcing any club to field a full-strength side, and often the League Cup - and, to a lesser extent, the FA Cup - is a useful competition for giving match time to fringe players in a squad. I wonder if bigger clubs would even perhaps contemplate naming one of their assistant managers (or the U21 manager) their "Cup Manager", leaving the main boss to focus on the league and pick which players should be made available for the cups but otherwise not being distracted by them?
Mourinho would field his first team squad just to complain about the challenges to win the EFL cup
 

Joe D Reid

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The interesting piece (to me) in there is that the money for the EFL is (a) much less and (b) going almost only to Leagues One and Two because the lower half of the Premier League doesn't want to fund potential rivals. So we've gone from a plan that hoses the bottom half of the EPL for the benefit of the top and bottom of the pyramid to one that protects the lower half of the EPL at the expense of the lower divisions. We've just pulled the ladder up in a different place. Is that better? I guess I view the entire EPL as an oligarchic enterprise to begin with, so I don't mind making it official as much as some others (even though I root for a club that would be a net loser here).

It feels like the endgame is just a Euro Super League that leaves the bottom-half EPL teams behind anyway but also takes away most of the money for the muggle clubs. If the whole bizarre Gang of 6/9 element of the plan could have been softened or just handled better, I think the plan would have ended up being more beneficial for more clubs than the weirdo Tory universal credit solution that's now on the table.

EDIT: And Jose loves the League Cup, LOVES it, at least in his first season at a club. He always tries to win some shiny object as quickly as possible at a new place.
 

Mighty Joe Young

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One thing I am kind of perplexed by .. the Nine was never going to be approved .. I mean, never .. so why was this put forward? Why would Henry and the Glazers submit themselves to a spectacular own goal? As suggested it may be negotiating ploy .. something to magnanimously give up to get what they really wanted. But some of the reports that have surfaced seem to suggest that the Gang of Nine was, indeed, the primary objective. A story in the Athletic , outlining the origins of the idea had John Henry not being able to understand how newly promoted Huddersfield can have the same say in how the league is run as the likes of Liverpool, Man U, Chelsea etc. But viewing this through an American sports entrepenure’s lens It does make sense. The whole relegation/promotion structure is unfathomable to them.

Given some of the proposals for revamping the Champions League (permanent members) that philosophy is continuing there.

 

OCST

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The interesting piece (to me) in there is that the money for the EFL is (a) much less and (b) going almost only to Leagues One and Two because the lower half of the Premier League doesn't want to fund potential rivals. So we've gone from a plan that hoses the bottom half of the EPL for the benefit of the top and bottom of the pyramid to one that protects the lower half of the EPL at the expense of the lower divisions. We've just pulled the ladder up in a different place. Is that better? I guess I view the entire EPL as an oligarchic enterprise to begin with, so I don't mind making it official as much as some others (even though I root for a club that would be a net loser here).

It feels like the endgame is just a Euro Super League that leaves the bottom-half EPL teams behind anyway but also takes away most of the money for the muggle clubs. If the whole bizarre Gang of 6/9 element of the plan could have been softened or just handled better, I think the plan would have ended up being more beneficial for more clubs than the weirdo Tory universal credit solution that's now on the table.

EDIT: And Jose loves the League Cup, LOVES it, at least in his first season at a club. He always tries to win some shiny object as quickly as possible at a new place.
English Everton fans were not mollified for a second by the club's inclusion in the Nine. They (rightfully) saw it as a fig leaf for the runaway plan of the Gobshite Kopites and ManU. Wasn't it Newcastle who's spent more time in the top flight than City anyway?
 

Section30

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EFL reject 50 Million pound offer for bottom two leagues.

"The need for continued unity across the membership base was fundamental to discussions across all three divisions, and therefore there was a strong consensus that any rescue package must meet the requirements of all 72 Clubs before it can be considered in full," the EFL said in a statement. "

If they reject everything out of hand, why should anyone offer them anything?

 

Dummy Hoy

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I hate to do this, but I’m going to post the most recent episode from the podcast that I’m on.


There’s a lot of great conversation about Project Big Picture and how it relates to football and fandom, etc. First section is about 30 minutes and worth a listen IMO.
 

Section30

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With both bailouts rejected, where do they go from here?

See if you can predict the future 6 months to say 2 years out.

I predict the big 6 plus maybe two more teams break away and join/form a super league. The Big Picture can be their justification for leaving. "We offered millions to bail you out and you turned it down, bye-bye"

I make this guess based on moves by Fenway Sports Group and RedBall Acquisition getting folded into FSG with Billy Beane being brought in. If they do go public the money raised is estimated to be in the $8B range. That would be enough to gain entry into several leagues, or form your own.



What's your prediction?
 

Mighty Joe Young

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Well, the Holy Grail as far as the Big Six is concerned , appears to be to have the power to sell their own international TV rights. Currently all international deals are shared equally. One imagines all the PL teams would still get an equal share of domestic income (plus top ups based on appearances - as it is now)

So a modified proposal , keeping most of the less contentious ideas (profit sharing, EFL bailout, 18 teams, no League cup) .. individual teams can sell their own international TV rights which would be worth a fortune to a select few of them. In return they’d back off the super league threat and the demand for controlling votes.
 
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Sounds like this would be a challenge to the champions league rather than the premier league. It’s backed by FIFA and FIFA is strongly in favor of retaining national leagues.
does a team like United really deserve to be in this conversation? They barely get into top 4 since SAF retired

resetting UCL isn't a bad idea as it seems like the group stage is a bit like intensive training for the big teams
 

Dummy Hoy

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Sounds like this would be a challenge to the champions league rather than the premier league. It’s backed by FIFA and FIFA is strongly in favor of retaining national leagues.
This looks right, although it's challenging the league in the sense of giving the big clubs an event to prioritize over the League.

As a non-big 6 fan, I can't stress enough that the door can hit their ass on the way out. One of the great joys of my footy fandom is enjoying the pro-rel process and the ever changing landscape (sort of, right?) of the football leagues. Football in the UK and around the world (with a few exceptions) is about community- these are very specifically clubs not franchises. So if a few greedy assholes want to close up shop and pull the ladder up behind them, I'm all good with that.

But I say that as someone who primarily watches 2nd division football and would almost certainly be a FC United of Manchester fan had I been in that mess.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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That's a really ugly proposal at any time. It's heinous at a time when society as a whole is struggling to keep its footing, let alone the lower leagues.

It must really chafe at the landed gentry that they have to hobnob with us dirty poors.
 

Dummy Hoy

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Man, it's not the dirty poors they don't want to associate with, its the other not-quite-as-rich folk they want to distance themselves from.

Everton, a club that is currently valued ~475m pounds; a club that has 142 years of history including founding the football league; a club that has spent more time in the top flight than any other team; a club with 9 League Titles, 5 PA Cups, and a European Trophy (and it would possibly be more if not for a ban applied to English teams); a club currently atop the Premier League- THAT club would be causally dismissed.

And while I love to shit on Liverpool (and Man U and Arsenal and Etc.), it's not them that want this- it's not the fans, it's not the history, it's certainly not the Ghost of Bill Shankly, or Kenny Dagleish, or Jurgen Klopp that wants this...it's people who use football clubs as brands to raise their already offensively obscene portfolios in a pathetically unnecessary game of Who Has The Most. The sooner they fuck off to their own private island, the better the rest of us are- granted we'll be short a few supremely enjoyable footballers.
 

Kliq

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Man, it's not the dirty poors they don't want to associate with, its the other not-quite-as-rich folk they want to distance themselves from.

Everton, a club that is currently valued ~475m pounds; a club that has 142 years of history including founding the football league; a club that has spent more time in the top flight than any other team; a club with 9 League Titles, 5 PA Cups, and a European Trophy (and it would possibly be more if not for a ban applied to English teams); a club currently atop the Premier League- THAT club would be causally dismissed.

And while I love to shit on Liverpool (and Man U and Arsenal and Etc.), it's not them that want this- it's not the fans, it's not the history, it's certainly not the Ghost of Bill Shankly, or Kenny Dagleish, or Jurgen Klopp that wants this...it's people who use football clubs as brands to raise their already offensively obscene portfolios in a pathetically unnecessary game of Who Has The Most. The sooner they fuck off to their own private island, the better the rest of us are- granted we'll be short a few supremely enjoyable footballers.
I hate the idea, but it would be interesting if a few of the biggest clubs ditched the domestic leagues to play in this European Premier League, and how seriously the general public would take each league. The assumption is that the super league would become the defacto #1 league because it will have all of the biggest clubs, but without the infrastructure and history of the domestic leagues, it might end up in the long run actually hurting the value of the biggest clubs. Is it actually better for Liverpool to swap Everton on their schedule with Lyon or Bayer Leverkusen? It would be funny to see it totally backfire, and that a majority of fans would still favor the domestic league(after all, a majority of clubs will remain in the domestic league) over the super league, which would end up being this inane carnival of big clubs playing for a trophy most fans don't value.
 

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MDLzera
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Yeah I agree, in the spectrum of "how much pan-europe football do you want", I actually think the UCL strikes close to an ideal balance. It's not some one-off quirk or stunt, the home-and-home pools have some competitive integrity, but the majority of your football is still domestic. Winning the UCL probably means more than winning your domestic league, but it's also the domestic league that gives you the legitimacy to be in there in the first place. Add more european matches, though (at the expense of domestic, of course), and you start to lose the understanding of why these clubs are there, deserve to be there, playing in a tournament-of-champions.

I get why the big clubs keep using the pan-european league as a specter to threaten UEFA and the FAs with, because they need some leverage. But what makes interest in the game so deep, extending to so many towns and people and regional identities, is the interconnectedness inherent in the pro/rel system. As oligarchic, as ossified as the disparate financial situations that the clubs find themselves in, there is still a rough justice and a fiber connecting every club in a country. And like DH says, that's what keeps people engaged, keeps making it more of a community. I keep thinking about Joe Posnanski's posts about freeing the minor leagues (and recapitulated), particularly the aspects of "it's a regional game", and how much the players at any level below the very top are playing for community pride.

There's an analogy there to european football: what the game needs is (A) more viable professional clubs able to sustain a business employing footballers, which means more dough needs to roll downhill, and (B) more (but not perfect) equality in having a level competitive playing field so that the other teams are not merely doormats on Juventus' or PSG's annual march to glory. That will create a rising tide lifting most boats, and will probably even accrue to the mega-clubs long-term value, just not their short-term value.
 

Zososoxfan

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I've said this before, and I'll say it again: a European Super League with promotion and relegation could be a pretty cool thing. A European Super League with no promotion or relegation will likely get pretty tiresome pretty quickly.
This is where I'm at. If UCL and UEL are a table competition with pro-rel between them, and UEL has pro-rel with domestic leagues, then I could definitely be on board. While many of you are more aware of the charms of domestic matchups, I relish fascinating matchups across leagues. Let's use United as the megaclub as an example. While United playing BHA is fine and there may be some cool quirky history to the matchup, from an entertainment standpoint I don't have an issue with United playing Sociedad or Leverkusen instead. Presumably United will still have the FA Cup and the Carabao/Capital One/Buffalo Wild Wings/EFL Cup for those anglophiles who love to see United play in the rolling hills of the English countryside.

I also understand the perspective that history and those small towns is what makes the sport great. But the sport has always been partly a reflection of society (read How Soccer Explains the World if you haven't already), and this movement can be thought of as the normalization of globalization.

Thinking about it in a slightly different way--my thought is that UCL/UEL done right can basically help pit the best players and clubs against one another more regularly. While it's certainly interesting to see less rich and less talented clubs compete against the big and megaclubs of Europe, that's just not typically how sport works. Most people want to see the best compete against each other and I don't think there's any argument that the top 20 clubs of Europe are not entirely comprised of clubs from one country.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I don't mind the idea of a European Super League so long as it doesn't fundamentally detract from and minimize the importance of domestic league competition. The real issue is that they theoretically want to do 34 matches, which would basically make it impossible for clubs to participate seriously in domestic league football. I'm completely out on that.

But, to me, there is no good reason in the abstract why you have to do home and away fixtures every season. Every team could play every other team once and you could have an 18 team league with a 17 match season, with random assignment of home/away or some kind of regular rotation system. Compared to the status quo CL system, this would increase the weight on European competition a little bit among the bigger clubs but also really be reducing the number of matches between the likes of Real Madrid and Olympiacos and increasing the number of matches between the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. That is a compromise I could live with.
 

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MDLzera
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Or you have a 16- or even 14-team league replacing the UCL. The thing is, the UCL right now is a delightful hybrid of leagueish play (group stage) and knockout play. League championships rarely come down to the wire and there's never a win-or-go-home dynamic, so you're really getting something different with UCL / UEL (and FA Cup) than you are with EPL / Bundesliga etc. I'm not sure I'd want more league at the expense of the fun qualities of a high level cup competition. I'd be totally down with a second group stage, though.
 
I don't mind the idea of a European Super League so long as it doesn't fundamentally detract from and minimize the importance of domestic league competition. The real issue is that they theoretically want to do 34 matches, which would basically make it impossible for clubs to participate seriously in domestic league football. I'm completely out on that.
I'm not out on this idea at all. Year in and year out, I think the most exciting division in world football may well be the English Championship: crowds (COVID notwithstanding) are quite large and passionate, and absolutely anyone can win the title or get promoted or even get relegated in any given season. If you removed Bayern Munich from the Bundesliga, Real Madrid and Barcelona from La Liga, Juventus from Serie A and PSG from Ligue Un, wouldn't those domestic leagues suddenly have similar parity to the Championship but way more technical skill? I think a European Super League could make these domestic leagues so much more fun to watch, particularly if the winners of those leagues then had the chance to be promoted to the ESL (and take the place of the sub-Bayern and sub-PSG clubs from Germany and France, etc., who won't necessarily be able to bounce straight back up). Let those big clubs play in their domestic cup competitions - which suddenly become much more relevant - but not their domestic leagues. They won't be missed nearly as much as you might think.