Premier League clubs and FA head into meetings amid reform plan row

MANCHESTER: Premier League clubs will break their silence over the much criticised proposals for major changes to the structure of England’s top flight, when they meet this week amidst talk of a ‘civil war’ within the game.

The Football Association (FA) will also hold a scheduled council meeting on Thursday when the issue is also expected to be raised. As the governing body for English football, the FA itself holds a ‘golden share’ which would allow it to block major changes.

The FA has so far declined to comment on the proposals but its council is made up of representatives from all leagues, as well as county FA’s, the grassroots and supporters representatives.

While no clubs have made public statements as yet on the plans, which Football League chairman Rick Parry says have been drawn up together with Liverpool and Manchester United, the fact that the league itself quickly issued a critical statement on Sunday indicates the likely mood of many teams.

Some British media has referred to a “civil war” within the Premier League over the proposals and the UK government has criticised what it termed a “backroom deal”.

But Parry, who has been the only public face of ‘Project Big Picture’ so far, has insisted that he will push ahead with the plans in the face of opposition.

It is understood that the leading clubs, often referred to as the ‘big six’, have been discussing how to approach the upcoming meeting which is likely to be held on Wednesday or Thursday.

The proposals would give more power to the big Premier League clubs, reducing the top division from 20 teams to 18 for the 2022-23 season and scrapping the League Cup and Community Shield.

The plans would also see the Premier League commit to providing 25% of the league’s revenue to EFL clubs and a £250 million (RM1.36 billion) rescue fund to help with the immediate impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

A precise date has not been agreed for this week’s meeting of Premier League clubs, which will be online.

Any changes to the Premier League’s structure need the support of 14 of the 20 clubs.

The plans, outlined by Parry on Sunday, address the issue of those voting powers within the Premier League and propose giving the nine clubs with the longest consecutive presence in the top flight special voting rights.

However, the proposal states that only six of the nine would need to vote for a given policy meaning the ‘big six’ clubs would have the power to make changes in a number of key areas, without the support of other clubs.

Manchester United and Liverpool have not issued statements on the issue and other clubs have been keeping their opinions private and declining to comment. – Reuters

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