Big Premier League clubs' pyramid scheme appears a flawed concept

Kenny Archer

Kenny Archer

Kenny is the deputy sports editor and a Liverpool FC fan.

Liverpool owner John W Henry (right), pictured with Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy, is behind 'Project Big Picture'.
Liverpool owner John W Henry (right), pictured with Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy, is behind 'Project Big Picture'.

A CYNICAL, self-serving attempt to centralise power and to keep the elite in charge in perpetuity. The rich aiming to make the rich richer, while talking about helping those in need. Trust undermined by back room deals.

The parallels between what some are saying about the proposed plans for reform of English football and the current ultra right-wing incarnation of the Tory party running/ ruining that country are very obvious.

Yet while only an utter fool would believe that the charlatans and Conmen and women dominating Westminster care about anything other than the votes of lower class plebs (as they see them) there would actually be some benefit for lower tier clubs in the 'Project Big Picture' plans drawn up by Liverpool and Manchester United.

In some ways it's surprising then that the Prime Minister's official spokesman (eye roll to test my eyesight) has hit out at the proposals, but that's probably because a) he's a populist; b) he didn't come up with them, and; c) perhaps because he was hoping to use the phrase 'Project Big Picture' for some crazy/genius scheme of his own.

Yet just because the Tories criticise something doesn't automatically mean that they are wrong and that it is right.

Equally, though – and take this from a journalist - some of the attacks on the proposals are motivated merely by pique, by other hacks mortified that they were 'scooped', beaten to the story.

It's telling that the drivers behind this 'Project Big Picture' are mostly American – the 'owners' of Manchester United and Liverpool and Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck.

However, while they are all for the US concept of sporting franchises, with places in the top league guaranteed, they don't appear to advocating another aspect of that system – the draft.

Allowing others to pick through the best young talent before them in order to provide the opportunity for a level playing field between all the franchisees? Perish the thought.

Quite the opposite, in fact, they seem to be suggesting feeder clubs in all but name, with many more Premier League players allowed to be loaned out than at present.

There might well be a wish to keep all the clubs in the football pyramid in existence – but only to use them as glorified development squads for the big guns.

The (red) devil is in the detail and the most diabolical element is the suggestion that a mere nine clubs would make the major decisions in future.

Obviously the so-called 'Big Six' are part of those nine riders: the two red rivals mostly behind this project along with Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, and Tottenham.

The three others aren't so obvious, however, and of course I'm going to question the inclusion of one of them.

Not Everton, who are one of only six Premier League ever-presents and have had the most top flight seasons of all clubs.

West Ham United – well I suppose London has a huge catchment area.


We went on holiday there last year, and one of my wife's bridesmaids hails from the south coast city. But still – Southampton?

Presumably they've promised their vote in favour, even if the Hammers haven't.

Aston Villa and Newcastle United have had more seasons in the Premier League than the Saints; actually those two have spent more time overall in the top flight since that re-structuring than Manchester City.

Indeed only Everton have had more top flight seasons than Villa.

Sunderland, West Brom, Bolton, Blackburn, Wolves, Sheffield Wednesday, Derby, Sheffield United, Stoke, Middlesbrough, Burnley, Birmingham, Nottingham Forest, Leicester, Leeds, and Preston have all had more seasons at the top level in history than Southampton.

Many of those may wonder if they belong to the 'squeezed middle' who would suffer in this proposed 'big picture', sometimes in the frame but always outside the protected few hogging the limelight.

Whether their talk is of levelling up or levelling down, the conservative elite never want to have any less themselves but persist in the myth of 'creating more wealth for everyone' rather than sharing what exists more equitably with all.

At least these proposals would offer a quarter-slice of the Premier League pie to the Football League. The difficult would be for most of those currently outside the golden circle being able to secure a regular place at the top table.

Dropping out of the Premier League would be even more scary than it already is to club owners (and players, managers, and supporters), even more like falling off a cliff if 'parachute payments' for demoted teams are brought to an end.

Although clubs outside the top flight might get their hands on more money than at present they'll have no chance of getting hold of the levers of power if the concept of 'one club, one vote' is removed.

Besides, the big boys are trying to secure their own futures, not those of smaller clubs, even if Liverpool's chief owner John Henry has, apparently, been floating giving a bigger chunk of PL money to the Football League for close to a decade.

The top dogs don't want fewer Premier League fixtures in order to assist the England team.

They want more space in the calendar for elite European club competitions and for lucrative pre-season friendlies.

Plenty of Football League clubs will be attracted by the apparently generous offer of £250m in these trying times and by the future share of 25 per cent of PL revenues, plus money for stadium improvements.

Yet if nine clubs are allowed to permanently have their snouts in the trough then everyone else will eventually end up feeding off scraps anyway.

To construct another analogy or two, the thing about a pyramid is that the base bears all the weight; and a pyramid scheme is designed to make those running it richer, at the expense of the suckers who dream that they'll do well out of it.