An­gry EFL clubs: Were we mis­led?

The Mail on Sunday - - Sport - By Nick Har­ris

AN AN­GRY group of EFL chair­men have told The Mail on Sunday they be­lieve clubs in their di­vi­sions were mis­led into sup­port­ing the ‘Project Big Pic­ture’ re­struc­tur­ing of English foot­ball drawn up by Liver­pool and Manch­ester United.

A head­line prom­ise in the pro­posal — al­ready scrapped but likely to re­turn in an al­tered for­mat — sug­gested the 72 EFL clubs would re­ceive 25 per cent of all fu­ture Premier League rev­enues, or £750mil­lion a year from 2022 on­wards.

They cur­rently split just over £ 400m, dished out via para­chute cash, sol­i­dar­ity pay­ments and acad­emy grants.

But The Mail on Sunday has ob­tained a copy of the lat­est draft of the Project Big Pic­ture ( PBP) plans, and it ap­pears to over­state Premier League rev­enues from over­seas TV deals from 2022, at £1.4 bil­lion a year.

The same draft pro­poses a re­duc­tion in Premier League clubs from 20 to 18, and that each club can sell eight games per sea­sons di­rect to over­seas fans, or 144 in to­tal.

Hence, the no­tion that over­seas TV rev­enues will rise from £1.2bn a year now (with all 380 games per sea­son in the over­seas pack­age) to £1.4bn in 2022 (when there will be 162 games in the pack­age from a re­duced to­tal of 306) seems ridicu­lous.

Log­i­cally that 162- game main over­seas rights pack­age should be worth dra­mat­i­cally less than £1.2bn 380-game pack­age now.

But the PBP ar­chi­tects are un­der­stood to feel pre­mium con­tent will re­tain value.

‘When you’re let­ting the Premier League clubs sell a load of games them­selves in for­eign mar­kets it’s clear the value of the rest of the games in the over­seas deal will be di­min­ished,’ says Andy Holt, chair­man of League One Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley. ‘This whole

PBP stinks. The peo­ple who de­signed it claim they’re do­ing it for the good of the game, so why skulk around and plan in se­cret?

‘If the in­ten­tions are hon­ourable and they want to help, then why not be open and trans­par­ent from the start, tell peo­ple they’re go­ing to make pro­pos­als — some of which will go down well and oth­ers won’t — and have an open con­ver­sa­tion. The fact they didn’t speaks vol­umes.’

A sec­ond owner-chair­man from a low­er­di­vi­sion club told the MoS: ‘This looks like a grab by the six big­gest beasts who would, in ef­fect, have be­come all pow­er­ful.

‘All we’ve been get­ting is pri­vate brief­ings from the EFL that it’s in our in­ter­ests to sup­port it. But we have not ac­tu­ally been shown any de­tail.’

Most club own­ers in the EFL have had zero sight of the de­tailed PBP work­ings. The plan, which of­fers a Covid-19 bailout of £250m to EFL clubs plus 25 per cent of fu­ture Premier

League rev­enues as head­line de­tails, has not been cir­cu­lated.

‘You do have to won­der why EFL chair­man Rick Parry has been push­ing this,’ said an­other club owner.

‘Yes, it gets the clubs out of what we hope will be a short-term rev­enue hole. But at what greater cost in the fu­ture?’

The PBP doc­u­ment fore­casts Premier League do­mes­tic TV rev­enue will rise by al­most £200m by 2022 at a time when most an­a­lysts feel it will fall or stay flat.

Sources say the rise ac­tu­ally in­cludes fu­ture EFL TV money. This again makes a mock­ery of the 25 per cent of PL rev­enue claim; in fact that 25 per cent in­cludes some of the EFL’s own money.

Sources stress EFL clubs have never, at any point, been promised spe­cific in­creases in rev­enue, only that Parry be­lieves they would be fi­nan­cially bet­ter off un­der PBP in the near fu­ture.

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