Leaked document shows FA chairman proposed 'Premier League 2'
Expect to hear plenty more about PBP
For anyone naive enough to think a line had been neatly drawn under so-called Project Big Picture, well, think again.
News of secret plans to shake up the structure of the Premier League and EFL broke last weekend. As part of the proposals, the size of the English top flight would be reduced, with voting power given to the 'top six' instead of being spread out across all clubs in the division.
On Wednesday, a Premier League spokesperson made clear the plans had been unanimously rejected by the league's current stakeholders, but barely 24 hours later comes a fresh twist.
An exclusive by The Telegraph details how Football Association chairman Greg Clarke has been accused of proposing the idea of a 'Premier League 2', which would see the introduction of some of the bigger clubs' B-teams into the Football League structure. Clarke is believed to have part-produced a discussion paper which has been seen by The Telegraph prior to meetings with Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck and representatives of Manchester United and Liverpool in February. The talks also included plans to completely overhaul to existing EFL system.
Earlier in the week Clarke had accused United and Liverpool of plotting a breakaway from the Premier League. Rick Parry, the EFL chairman, is said to have shared the draft of Project Big Picture with representatives of EFL clubs claiming it was in fact Clarke who set in motion the controversial plans. Parry, the report says, appears 'at pains to clarify his version of events' in an email also seen by the newspaper.
'First of all, it was Greg [Clarke] who initiated this process,' Parry writes. He later adds: 'You’ll see that the document highlights the role that the major clubs should play in bringing about change given the alternatives that are open to them. He also raises a number of contentious issues such as Premier League Two, B Teams and the exclusion of League One and League Two clubs from EPPP.
'For the avoidance of any doubt this is not to say that Greg was personally in favour of these ideas but that they warranted discussion.'
Bringing his email to a close, Parry adds: 'I made it clear from the outset that some of these were absolute non-starters from an EFL point of view and it is clear that they did not find their way into the Project Big Picture proposal."
'They were firmly rejected by Liverpool and Manchester United which does confirm their understanding of the importance of the pyramid.'
This, we can safely say, will not be the last we hear of Project Big Picture.