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.
The proposals, dubbed Project Big Picture, would see:
- The Premier League cut from 20 to 18 clubs, with the Championship, League One and League Two each retaining 24 teams.
- The bottom two teams in the Premier League relegated automatically with the 16th-placed team joining the Championship play-offs.
- The League Cup and Community Shield abolished.
- Parachute payments scrapped.
- A £250m rescue fund made immediately available to the EFL
- £100m paid to the FA to make up for lost revenue.
- Nine clubs given ‘special voting rights’ on certain issues, based on their extended runs in the Premier League.
But the plans have been criticised by the Premier League, the government and supporters’ groups.
“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.
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.”
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport condemned what it called a “backroom deal”.
“We are surprised and disappointed that at a time of crisis when we have urged the top tiers of professional football to come together and finalise a deal to help lower league clubs, there appear to be backroom deals being cooked up that would create a closed shop at the very top of the game,” a DCMS spokesperson said.
“Sustainability, integrity and fair competition are absolutely paramount and anything that may undermine them is deeply troubling. Fans must be front of all our minds, and this shows why our fan led review of football governance will be so critical.”