Liverpool's players celebrate as they lift the Premier League trophy
Liverpool won the Premier League for the first time last season

Radical proposals for the reform of English football could have a “damaging impact” on the game, says the Premier League.

Under the proposals, led by Liverpool and Manchester United, the English top flight would be cut to 18 teams.

The plans would see the Premier League hand over the £250m bailout required by the Football League to stave off a financial disaster among its 72 clubs.

The Premier League would also hand over 25% of its annual income to the EFL.

“English football is the world’s most watched, and has a vibrant, dynamic and competitive league structure that drives interest around the globe,” a Premier League statement said.

“To maintain this position, it is important that we all work together. Both the Premier League and the FA support a wide-ranging discussion on the future of the game, including its competition structures, calendar and overall financing particularly in light of the effects of Covid-19.

“Football has many stakeholders, therefore this work should be carried out through the proper channels enabling all clubs and stakeholders the opportunity to contribute.”

Under the proposals, the EFL Cup in its present form would be abolished and the Community Shield scrapped.

In addition, the top flight’s 14-club majority voting system would change.

It is thought English Football League chairman Rick Parry is in favour of the plans, first reported by the Daily Telegraph.external-link

The Premier League statement added: “In the Premier League’s view, 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.

“The Premier League has been working in good faith with its clubs and the EFL to seek a resolution to the requirement for Covid-19 rescue funding. This work will continue.”

It is understood Liverpool’s owners, the Fenway Sports Group, came forward with the initial plan, which has been worked on by United co-chairman Joel Glazer. It is anticipated it will receive the backing of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur – the other members of England’s ‘big six’.

The idea is to address longstanding EFL concerns about the huge gap in funding between its divisions and the Premier League by handing over 25% of the annual income, although the current parachute payment system would be scrapped.

There would be a £250m up-front payment to address the existing crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic, seen by some as a bid to garner support for the proposals.

In addition, the Football Association would receive what is being described as a £100m “gift”.

Paul Pogba (right) is congratulated after scoring
Manchester United are among the clubs driving the change

No date has been set for the proposed new-style league to be in operation but sources have suggested 2022-23 is not out of the question.

In order to get down from 20 to 18, it is anticipated four clubs would be relegated directly, with two promoted from the Championship. In addition, there would be play-offs involving the team to finish 16th in the Premier League and those in third, fourth and fifth in the second tier.

It is also planned that, as well as the ‘big six’, ever-present league member Everton, West Ham United and Southampton – ninth and 11th respectively in the list of clubs who have featured in the most Premier League seasons – would be granted special status.

If six of those nine clubs vote in favour of a proposal, it would be enough to get it passed.

There is no mention of Aston Villa and Newcastle United, both of whom have featured in more Premier League campaigns than Manchester City.

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