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Project Big Picture emerging as power play by bigger clubs

This is my shocked face.

Chelsea FC v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images

The latest reports coming out of the international break are centered around Project Big Picture, which we’ve had a couple of pieces for you already. While the goal of the project is aimed at helping out lower clubs, we’re quickly seeing the entire ball of yarn unravel and look at it for what it is: A major power play involving most, if not all, of the Sky Six.

Miguel Delaney has been on this from the start and wrote a follow-up piece ahead of Wednesday’s meeting among clubs to discuss the project further. While the piece itself is re-hashing what we already know, it’s important to realize that those pushing the project are quite serious. How serious, you ask?

The “nuclear option” remains the big six resigning from the Premier League, and forming a new division with 12 EFL clubs, leaving “the greatest league in the world” as a rump.

Many sources see this is “the real test of how far United and Liverpool are willing to go”.

Well that’s.....something. Let’s do our own unraveling on this.

Project Big Picture has a lot of good and a lot of gray area to it, if I can put it nicely. The bailout amount of £250m is nothing to scoff at. That’s a massive chunk of change and could help out the lower division clubs. We’ve already seen clubs such as Bury go through administration while Bolton Wanderers had their last rites recited to them before they were saved at the eleventh hour. While they were easily relegated to League Two, that’s far better than EFL expulsion.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for clubs in the EPL to manage, and those problems are exponentially worse for EFL clubs. If you want to know where the EFL clubs stand on it, Delaney covers that bluntly.

An argument that has been put forward against the project is that £250m - the value of any bail-out - is worth far more than the political power that would be handed away to the elite Premier League clubs for decades, as is set out in the current plans for voting. The feeling among the EFL, however, is that “the other choice is going under”.

The EFL also feels emboldened by the support of Liverpool and United, since they are the two most popular English clubs in the world, and bring in huge money.

Delaney also mentions that Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City are quite hesitant to rubber stamp this deal that rivals Manchester United and Liverpool are pushing hard for.

Lost in this picture is Daniel Levy and Tottenham Hotspur’s stance. Delaney has no word on how the north London club feels regarding this, but I direct you to Dustin’s piece yesterday if we want a hint. £125m towards the stadium loans has to look quite appealing.

As for the nuclear option mentioned before, I doubt it’s anything more than an empty threat. While we’ve all wondered what a European super league would look like run independently with UEFA left out in the cold, a domestic league like this makes little sense. The clubs see an opportunity, however, to maximize profits at a time when they need it the most.

Finally, how do the governing bodies feel about this? About how you would expect:

Totally against the plans are: the Premier League executive, the supporters’ organisations including the FSA, the government and the Football Association. The FA’s current stance is that it will not sanction a new division or competition, which would complicate any potential resignation.

Wednesday could be quite a day for English football. We’ll see how it shakes out.