The phrase “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” seems to apply to a lot these days with wealth disparity becoming a growing concern for many.
Even professional soccer clubs can be affected by big business ventures within their own industry. Project Big Picture was proposed in early October by Liverpool owner John W. Henry and Manchester United chairman Joel Glazer as a push to try and change the power structure of the Premier League. The project would also bring fiscal stability to lower league clubs.
At first glance, the proposal actually seems like a decent opportunity for all parties involved. According to ESPN, the deal would inject a £250 million payment to the English Football League (EFL), which in turn would help keep its 72-member clubs from succumbing to financial downturns. A grassroots investment clause is included which would see an additional £10 million given to the Football Association (FA) to use. A percentage of revenue from the Premier League and EFL would go to clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two. Fans would also benefit from a price cap of £20 on away tickets.
The less favorable details from this deal include a size reduction of the Premier League from 20 to 18 teams, as well as the elimination of the Carabao Cup and Community Shield competitions. Teams that place 16th in the Premier League would also join a playoff with teams that place third, fourth and fifth in the Championship.
The most astonishing part of this entire project -- and the factor that is driving a lot of people away from it -- is the special power regarding rule changes, broadcasting rights and potential club takeovers given to nine historic Premier League clubs. Included on that list are Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Southampton, Tottenham and West Ham.
United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed his disapproval of the deal for reasons EFL Chairman and supporter of Project Big Picture, Rick Parry, deemed a “hysterical” reaction. “People have seen it as a power grab but I don’t see it that way,” Parry said in an interview with TalkSPORT.
The Premier League has always been a dynamic league. Clubs like Leicester City claimed an unforeseen victory run in 2016 with 5000-1 odds at the beginning of the season and Aston Villa beat the defending champions Liverpool 7-2 at home after being on the brink of relegation last season. The implementation of such a proposal would reduce the chances of such historic feats from happening.
Project Big Picture would bring a sort of predictability and dominance of “Big Six” clubs similar to how the rest of the “Top Five” leagues in Europe operate. For the past decade, each league has seen pretty much the same set of clubs come out on top every year because of their immense resources. Bayern Munich has won 8 of the past 10 German Bundesliga campaigns, Juventus 9 of 10 Italian Serie A championships, Paris Saint-Germain 7 of the last 10 French Ligue Un seasons and Barcelona and Real Madrid dominating the last 9 out of 10 La Liga tournaments.
The only exciting competition that remains for these clubs is the Champions League, but even that might be in jeopardy with the Premier League’s immense global popularity giving them greater annual earnings than other leagues. Enabling the “Top Six” teams with greater revenue shares would certainly increase their leverage in the competition as well as other tournaments like the FIFA Club World Cup.