Sunday, 11 October 2020

Parry hit back at Premier League and UK government over 'Project Big Picture'


Football League chairman Rick Parry hit back at the Premier League and the UK government on Sunday after they criticised his plan, backed by Liverpool and Manchester United, for a major restructuring of the Premier League.

Former Liverpool and Premier League CEO Parry has been in talks with both clubs over radical proposals to reduce the league in size from 20 clubs to 18, scrap the League Cup and Community Shield and re-organise the financial distribution of revenue and voting rights.

The plan also includes a Covid-19 relief payment of £350 million from the Premier League to the 72 EFL clubs in the three divisions below the top flight.

The plan was first reported by The Telegraph on Sunday and the Premier League responded saying "a number of the individual proposals in the plan published today could have a damaging impact on the whole game and we are disappointed to see that Rick Parry, Chair of the EFL, has given his on-the-record support".

Parry said he welcomed United and Liverpool backing a plan to help the EFL.

"We don't apologise for having dialogue with two of our major clubs who have come forward and suggested it," Parry told reporters.

"The Premier League could have come up with proposals at any stage, they could have solved the short-term issue of our rescue funding a lot quicker, for whatever reason they haven't, so we are where we are.

"Frankly, am I disappointed that I have taken what on the face of it is a great idea to our clubs? No, I am not and it was an idea that needed to come out. Clearly there will be a huge amount of debate but this is about coming up with a bold plan for the future and if that doesn't please everybody, frankly, so be it."

The UK government's Department of Culture Media and Sport also came out against the plan but Parry said that wouldn't cause a rethink.

"It doesn't make it a non-starter at all. The merits of the idea, I think still shine through. Fans have been considered in this," he said.

"It is absolutely about saving the pyramid so I frankly find it really difficult to reconcile our thoughts on this with the government's position. But it is not going to deter us."

Parry said the changes were needed because of "a chasm which has become unbridgeable for clubs transitioning between the EFL and the Premier League".

The EFL chairman was unable to say whether the other four members of the 'big six', Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal were fully in support of the plan.

Parry accepted that the proposal would likely meet opposition from clubs in the bottom half of the Premier League but urged them to consider the health of the entire football pyramid.

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