Episode Four: United Kingdom unanimous in rebuking indecent proposal.
Today the Premier League Clubs collectively meet at 11am to “discuss” the Big Picture Project put forward by Liverpool and Man Utd on behalf of the Big 6 [Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and Spurs the remaining 4]. I say “discuss” because… this is tantamount to civil war.
The exact stance of all Premier League teams is yet to be deciphered, and expect that everyone will keep their cards close to their chest to avoid any public indignation. The fact that the Supporters’ Groups representing the Big 6 have released a joint statement condemning the proposals means every single step now is fragile – except for Joel Glazar, as most Man Utd fans already despise him and the owners. The statement read:
“By floating this latest plan, those behind it are acknowledging football needs to be reformed. It’s something we have been saying for many years. There are some suggestions in this plan that have merit.
But we are totally opposed to concentrating power in the hands of six billionaire owners and departing from the one club, one vote and collective ethos of the Premier League.
This part of the proposal must be dropped immediately if other elements are to be given serious consideration.”
The Supporters’ Groups have correctly recognised the need for reform in their statement, not running away from the issues threatening the foundations of our beautiful game but have addressed the most important proposal from the BPP Team : ONE CLUB, ONE VOTE, COLLECTIVE ETHOS.
That ‘Collective Ethos’ is being threatened by the break-away Big 6, trying to lure the Middle 3 of Everton, West Ham and Southampton, and to dominate the Bottom 100,000 – all the other teams that make up the dozens and dozens of competitive leagues supported by the FA.
West Ham United, named within the announcement of the Big Picture Project, have suitably distanced themselves from the action, placing a metaphorical running track between their name and this absurd claim for power. It’s an impressive move to make a stand by West Ham, given their financial and fan instability. They’re acting like a genuine football institution, to protect and unite all football and not just abandon its roots for a quick buck. Very unlike the reputation of the West Ham owners.
But for all of this “discussion” due to take place at the virtual Premier League Headquarters, the fact remains that the EFL have stated they require a minimum £250m bail out due to Covid. The National League required a minimum £20m bail out in the absence of fans since October’s change of heart. The FA announced 120 redundancies, cancelled all vacancies and declared a £300m loss due to Covid-19. Imperative action is required, at a time we need to invest in change – change in racism, change in sexism, change in protecting vulnerable people, change in promoting diversity, change in progressing children’s football, reform across the whole country, across all playing abilities, across all boundaries.
The money is definitely available within football, the question is where, and how. No-one is forcing the billionaire owners to part with their “hard earned” cash, keep your oil / slave money – we don’t want it. What we want is the game in the hands of the fans.
We are the single highest contributor to the wealth of all football, through television rights, merchandising and gate receipts. The game is for us.
We should make the demands because we know what we want – kind of. We do rely on Premier League Chairmen to make the big decisions, but we trust that those decisions are fair for all. It’s a huge relief to see the response and outrage from fans, particularly the Big 6 Supporters’ Groups to denounce their faith in their own Clubs.
In the FA We Trust! FA Chairman Greg Clarke, not notorious for being a man of the people, said he walked away from BPP discussions in the 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”. The FA are in need of their own reforms certainly, but they’re attempting to complete these in the right manner and not willing to have their legs cut out from underneath them.
At a time when ignorance and naivety dominate our social feeds and national press with anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, climate change denials, etc etc it’s a huge reassurance to see that us football fans have not been of such an ignorance, to see this as anything short of a power grab and way to manipulate all English football under the control of a select few individuals.
Unfortunately, and we’re yet to see the result of today’s initial discussions, I do not believe this to be the end of the story by some distance. The actions of the Big Picture Project were to cause disharmony and distrust and disturb the waters of the existing Premier League owners. Certain aspects of the proposal will be promoted, some abolished, some – like Special Voting Rights – will be fought for harder than any by the tyrant side. Have you seen the last 4 years of Brexit? This will be negotiation after negotiation after negotiation, with neither side really getting what they want. The lesson to be learned from Brexit is this… we don’t need to force negotiations with Fenway Sports Group and Joel Glazar – nor do we need to resolve these financial issues with the Premier League at all.
The FA and The Government should be doing far more to regulate and govern the sport, particularly at the highest level where billions and billions of pounds are spent effortlessly whilst parts of the country are scrambling around for survival in food banks. We do not need the supposed help of these foreign investors (chlorinated chicken) to be prosperous in a post Covid world. We are the United Kingdom, and we know how to run football without you.