English Premier League clubs debate radical reform plan

The ‘Project Big Picture’ plan is backed by Liverpool and Manchester United. (File/AFP)
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Updated 14 October 2020

English Premier League clubs debate radical reform plan

  • The ‘Project Big Picture’ plan is backed by Liverpool and Manchester United
  • Football Supporters’ Association has described the proposals as a ‘sugar-coated cyanide pill’

LONDON: Premier League clubs are holding a shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday after Football Association chairman Greg Clarke said a breakaway from the top flight was wielded “as a threat” during talks over radical proposals to restructure English football.
The “Project Big Picture” plan, backed by Liverpool and Manchester United, has been criticized by the government, the Premier League and fan groups.
Proposals include cutting the number of Premier League teams from 20 to 18, scrapping the League Cup, controversial changes to voting rights and a financial settlement for the English Football League (EFL).
Representatives of the 20 Premier League clubs will have the chance to debate the issue in the open for the first time during a virtual get-together on Wednesday that comes after an eye-catching intervention from Clarke.
In a letter to the FA council, which convenes on Thursday, he said he had taken part in initial discussions before walking away when he felt the aim had become “the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few clubs, with a breakaway league mooted as a threat.”
Clarke warned the FA could use its so-called “golden share” as a trump card if it felt the wider interests of the game were being compromised and suggested any breakaway competition would not receive the necessary sanctions from the governing body.
“We, the FA board and council, have to ensure that any changes would be to the long-term benefit of the whole of football and we have substantial controls to help ensure that the best interests of the game are served by any new proposals,” he said.
The plans have been championed by EFL chairman Rick Parry, with teams in the Championship, League One and League Two in line to receive £250 million ($323 million) up front alongside a promise of a 25 percent share of future Premier League broadcast revenue.
Support among the 72 EFL clubs appeared to be soaring after separate divisional meetings led by Parry on Tuesday, although the plans have reportedly been less well received by most Premier League clubs outside the elite names.
Former Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale, representing Preston, said there were “no dissenting voices” in the Championship call, Burton Albion chief executive Jez Moxey described League One support as “unanimous” and Leyton Orient chairman Nigel Travis said excitement about the plans was “overwhelming.”
But Christian Purslow, chief executive of Premier League club Aston Villa, indicated his opposition to Project Big Picture before the shareholders’ meeting.
“I don’t think we should give too much credence to this particular plan,” he told the BBC. “I think a much broader, long-term plan for football is what I would expect to come from the Premier League.”
The Football Supporters’ Association has described the proposals as a “sugar-coated cyanide pill offered up by billionaire owners who do not understand or care about our football culture.”
A joint statement from supporters’ groups representing Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea followed, in which fans of the “Big Six” clubs made clear their opposition to the initiative in its current form.


Racing in the streets: Jeddah to host first Saudi F1 Grand Prix

Updated 29 October 2020

Racing in the streets: Jeddah to host first Saudi F1 Grand Prix

  • Kingdom’s inaugural race to take place in city while purpose-built track at Qiddiyah is being completed

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix next year will take place on the city streets of Jeddah.
The Saudi Grand Prix appears on the provisional F1 calendar for 2021 that has been distributed to race teams. It is expected to be the penultimate race of the 2021 season, which will conclude
with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit.
Jeddah will host the Saudi race while a new purpose-built track at Qiddiyah is completed, which is expected to be in 2023.
It is one of 22 races on a provisional 2021 schedule as F1 plans to return to a calendar as close to normal as possible after this year’s disruption. The first 10 races of the 2020 season were either postponed or cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

HIGHLIGHT

The Saudi Grand Prix is one of 22 races on a provisional 2021 schedule as F1 plans to return to a calendar as close to normal as possible after this year’s

The 2021 season will begin in Melbourne, Australia in mid-March and then goes on to Bahrain. It includes nearly all the races that had been due to be held this year.
That means a return for grands prix in China, Japan and Canada, which had to be cancelled because of the disruptions to international travel caused by COVID-19, as well as the debut of the Vietnamese Grand Prix.
F1 has been in conversations with the relevant national governments and all are said to be in agreement the races can take place, unless the pandemic worsens.
In 2018, Riyadh hosted the first Formula E championship in the Middle East in Diriyah with 23,000 in attendance. The second Formula E championship was held in late 2019.
This year, Saudi Arabia held its first Dakar Rally, a 7,800km race that began in Jeddah and finished in Qiddiyah.