“It is like rich folk throwing food down to starving people who are scurrying around on the floor to pick it up, and then announcing: ‘Now we’ve given you that, we own you’.”
At no point in time since the formation of the Premier League in 1992 has football needed solidarity, and to come together to preserve the future of the beautiful game in this country.
The Project Big Picture deal announced this weekend will do that, there is no doubt about that. On paper it is a superbly crafted plan to help the preserve the clubs lower down, the ones who really need the financial help in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and all it has brought with it.
A few parts certainly need ironing out, that is accepted.
But it comes at a cost, a cost that won’t bring the clubs closer together and even the playing field. It comes at a cost that will see those at the top, those with most of the pulling power already, made more powerful, and those at the bottom made weaker but with a bit more cash on the hip.
As I said last week following the fall out from the pay per view plans, the Premier League and the top clubs in this country, the money men, the ones with the most resources, had a chance to change how they are viewed by the majority in this current crisis.
If this plan, which will see £350 million come in the form of a rescue package for the FA and EFL, followed by 25 per cent of TV revenues per year go to Football League clubs, was announced without the catch that clubs have to hand over the keys of the game to the big boys, then it would have been greeted and welcomed.
The big clubs who are known for their greed and bulging bank balances would have been seen as the saviours of the game.
It would have shown why our national sport is so special.
But this deal has come with this stipulation and until that is banished, this deal simply cannot go through.
In recent years we’ve heard about the Government trying to privatise the NHS. This is the privatisation of English football.
It is like rich folk throwing food down to starving people who are scurrying around on the floor to pick it up, and then announcing: ‘Now we’ve given you that, we own you.’
It was floated in the Sunday newspapers that the so called ‘big six’, plus the other longest serving clubs in the top league, could be able to veto takeovers.
How can that be allowed.
Other parts of the deal will see further resources go to clubs in the Football League.
Elsewhere in the plan there are calls to scrap the Community Shield, something clubs would probably agree to if it leads to financial help.
The scrapping of the League Cup has quite rightly come in for flack. Okay it is viewed as an inconvenience by those who compete in Europe, but if that’s the case then those who quality for those competitions shouldn’t play in the League Cup that year.
It brings vital revenue for smaller clubs and will only take much needed revenue away from them, just like the ending of FA Cup replays has done.
Gary Neville, co-owner of Salford City, who has a vested interest in this deal as it will impact his club’s financial situation has said all parties should get around the table because it shouldn’t be dismissed.
No, it shouldn’t be dismissed, but handing over the voting rights of our beloved game in a move that is basically blackmailing the clubs who need a cash injection is purely and simply wrong.
And its surprising this deal, that has apparently been cooked up over a three year period, comes at a time during a pandemic when clubs are almost flat on their backsides.
At a time where clubs will think, its probably not right to back this, but what alternative do we have.
For years EFL clubs have bemoaned the lack of money they receive from TV deals and have asked for help. Why hasn’t this deal been tabled already?
Those who have produced this plan, Manchester United, Liverpool and EFL chair Rick Parry, have timed the announcement of this plan to perfection when it comes to their interests in this, you can’t deny that.
But if this gets through it will change our game forever. Financially maybe for the better for many but it comes at a greater cost.
Will English football clubs sell their soul for a bigger slice of the pie? Hopefully not.