FA Chairman and FIFA vice-president, Greg Clarke has opined that any changes that will be made to the English Football league has to benefit everyone involved and not just fill pockets. This comes after a proposal to transform the Premier League and the English Football League (EFL) was leaked.
The unofficial release of a proposal called ‘Project Big Picture’ has shocked English football with many concerned that Premier League’s big clubs are looking to take over football in England. The proposal, that was later confirmed to be true, would hand a life-line to the English Football League (EFL) via various payouts but at the same time, it would change the voting structure of the top tier and the structure of the entire pyramid. That has many fans and critics alike concerned at the way the top English clubs have gone about things.
However, FA chairman Greg Clarke painted a stark picture of the talks and admitted that he walked away from the discussions about 'Project Big Picture' but also confirmed that there were talks of a breakaway league. Clarke further asserted, in an open letter on the FA's website, that the FA's "board and Council" have to ensure that "any changes would be to the long-term benefit" of football and the entire English football pyramid.
“However, in late spring, when the principal aim of these discussions became the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few clubs with a breakaway league mooted as a threat, I of course discontinued my involvement and counselled a more consensus-based approach involving all Premier League clubs and its chair and chief executive. Our game needs to continually seek to improve but benefits need to be shared,” Clarke said, reported the FA’s official website.
"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."
The proposal also includes a facet that will see both the League/Carabao Cup and the pre-season curtain-raiser in form of the Community Shield scrapped which will allow the top six sides of the top tier able to play more European football. That plays in the hands of UEFA with them looking to make changes to the Champions League and Europa League over the next few years. However, Clarke added that the FA has a clause that allows them veto any changes and implied that the FA could also stop European participation if they want.
“In addition to the Special Share in the Premier League, which prevents certain changes being made to the constitution without the FA's consent, it is also the FA's responsibility to sanction competitions in England - including any proposed new competition - as well as being responsible for licensing clubs, through UEFA, to play in Europe. Additionally, UEFA look to us to nominate the league, and therefore the clubs, that will play in their competitions.
"Let's continue to work together to determine what is best for English football, with full dialogue between all key stakeholders. However, there is more to our game than economics. Change must benefit clubs, fans and players; not just selective balance sheets. In these difficult times unity, transparency and common purpose must override the interests of the few," he added.