What ‘Project Big Picture’ could mean for Sheffield Wednesday

One of the biggest stories of the weekend was the unveiling of the controversial ‘Project Big Picture’ plan put forward by the Rick Parry, but what would it mean for Sheffield Wednesday?

By Joe Crann
Monday, 12th October 2020, 12:30 pm
How could Project Big Picture affect Sheffield Wednesday? And how much power would go to the Premier League's 'Big Six'? (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
How could Project Big Picture affect Sheffield Wednesday? And how much power would go to the Premier League's 'Big Six'? (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

PBP, which is reportedly being worked on by English Football League chairman, Parry, as well as the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool, would see a cash windfall for EFL clubs, but also a major increase in power and influence for the established Premier League clubs.

A document explaining the project spoke of the fact that the ‘increasingly huge differences in revenues allocated to the Premier League in comparison to the English Championship, League One and League Two’ have created ‘almost impossible economic pressures on clubs seeking to gain admittance to or remaining within the Premier League’.

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It is a proposal that has caused a large divide amongst fans, and is likely to do the same amongst clubs, with most people likely to be in favour of whichever vote would best suit them at the time.

For Sheffield Wednesday, it would certainly make getting promotion more difficult in terms of having to finish higher up the table, but the financial benefits would also be a likely temptation for them while they are still a Championship club.

We took a look at the situation, which could prove to be the biggest shake-up of English football in a generation.

What are the key points?

- The Premier League would be cut to 18 clubs, meaning 90 clubs in the English football pyramid rather than 92.

- The League Cup and Community Shield would be scrapped.

- £250 million given to EFL clubs immediately as part of a ‘rescue fund’.

- There would be annual solidarity payments to the EFL of 25% of the Premier League’s revenue, going up from the 4% currently handed over.

- It would mean more power for ‘Big Six’, with the votes of only six of the nine longest-serving Premier League clubs needed to make major changes – effectively one club, one vote would be scrapped.

- The Play-Off structure would be amended, with three Championship clubs (3rd, 4th and 5th) being joined by the 16th-placed Premier League club.

- For it to be passed, 14 of the 20 Premier League clubs would need to agree to it.

But how would it affect the Owls?

- Firstly, Wednesday would receive a substantial amount of money from the Premier League as part of the £250m immediate payout, and then more on an annual basis as well given the increase to 25% of the revenue being shared out.

- Finishing sixth would no longer be good enough to reach the Play-Offs, with SWFC needed to finish between 3rd and 5th to qualify.

- For fans, there’s talk of a £20 away ticket price cap, as well as subsidised away travel, and a ‘focus on return to safe standing and minimum 8% capacity for away allocation’.

- English teams would be allowed four players on loan from the same club, and teams would be allowed to have 15 players out on loan domestically at any one time.

What has Parry said?

"The need for a complete rethinking regarding the funding of English professional football predates the Covid-19 crisis. Discussion and planning around 'Project Big Picture' has been ongoing for quite some time, unrelated to the current pandemic, but now has an urgency that simply cannot be denied.

"The revenues flowing from the investment and work of our top clubs has been largely limited to the top division creating a sort of lottery, while Championship clubs struggle to behave prudently and Leagues One and Two are financially stretched despite enormous revenues English football generates. This plan devised by our top clubs and the English Football League puts an end to all of that.

"The gap between the Premier League and the English Football League has become a chasm which has become unbridgeable for clubs transitioning between the EFL and Premier League. In 2018-19, Championship clubs received £146million in EFL distributions and Premier League solidarity payments. This compares with £1.58billion received by the bottom 14 Premier League clubs - 11 times as much."

What has the Premier League said?

"We have seen media reports today regarding a plan to restructure football in this country… English football is the world's most watched, and has a vibrant, dynamic and competitive league structure that drives interest around the globe. 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.

"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.”

Several reports have suggested that as many as 14 of the 20 top-flight clubs were actually unaware of the existence of ‘Project Big Picture’ before it was leaked to the Daily Telegraph over the weekend, and it remains very much up in the air as to whether it would have the support of enough teams to get passed.

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