Simon Jordan rips into Project Big Picture plans

Rick Parry denies the EFL will be the Premier League’s ‘poodle’ under Project Big Picture, as ex-Palace owner Simon Jordan claims it’s a ‘Machiavellian deal with the devil to push the Big Six towards a European Super League’

  • Former Crystal Palace owner Jordan heavily criticised Project Big Picture
  • He views it as a ‘deal with the devil’ that consolidates Big Six power  
  • EFL chief Rick Parry defended his support for the plans in debate with Jordan 
  • Plans to radically reform English football sent shockwaves through the game
  • Liverpool and Man United led proposals that would consolidate Big Six power
  • Premier League would be cut from 20 to 18 teams with EFL Cup scrapped
  • Nine established top-flight clubs would be afforded a special status 
  • In return the EFL would receive bail-out of £250m amid Covid-19 financial crisis 

Simon Jordan has ripped into EFL chairman Rick Parry for backing the controversial ‘Project Big Picture’ plans drawn up by Liverpool and Manchester United to shake-up English football.

The former Crystal Palace owner described the proposals as a ‘deal with the devil’ and a ‘Machiavellian’ scheme to consolidate power for the established Big Six to the long-term detriment of the EFL.

He argued it would simply push the leading clubs closed to a European Super League in a few years’ time.  

In response, Parry, speaking on talkSPORT, said the Premier League had 25 years to introduce a more egalitarian model that truly helped lower league clubs and denied the EFL had become the Premier League’s ‘poodle’ by supporting the plans. 

Former Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan has blasted the Project Big Picture plans drawn up by Liverpool and Manchester United and supported by EFL chief Rick Parry

Parry, speaking on talkSPORT, denied the plans will make the EFL the Premier League’s ‘poodle’

Jordan said: ‘This is a deal with the devil. It doesn’t stack up, it doesn’t work and it won’t happen.

‘This is the typical George Orwellian mentality that all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.

‘If you’re Rick Parry, you take what you want from it. They haven’t done their jobs over the last six months during an impending crisis that shows no reduction in speed and you’re starting to steer into desperation territory.

‘This empowers the big six and enables them to steer towards where they’re really going which is to have a better relationship with Juventus and Bayern Munich and Barcelona and the European Club Association.

‘This is all part of this Machiavellian mix being thrown up here.’

In response to Jordan’s comments during the radio debate, Parry said: ‘The Premier League could have come up with a plan at any stage in the last 25 years. 

‘Two of the leading clubs have come up with a plan, it shouldn’t be criticised and should be applauded. There has been some hysterical reaction.

Premier League champions Liverpool are behind the proposals that would radically overhaul the top end of the English game and consolidate the power of the ‘Big Six’

‘Some have alighted on this as a power grab. I don’t see it that way and I see the benefits it will produce.’ 

Jordan said to Parry the plans look like a ‘Trojan horse’ designed to bring the Government back to the table to deliver the bail-out desperately needed by EFL clubs.

Parry said: ‘I don’t see it that way. I don’t underestimate the challenges but that doesn’t suggest we will sit back and do nothing about the longer term.

‘We have numerous alternatives we can consider but in terms of a bigger vision and where the game ought to be going, it does need big ideas and big thinking, however challenging. We are stimulating the debate.’

The radical plans for the biggest shake-up of English football in a generation sent shockwaves through the game on Sunday and plunged the Premier League into civil war.

The Premier League executive launched a scathing attack on Parry for his support of ‘Project Big Picture’, a shake-up hatched by chiefs at Liverpool and Manchester United.

It would see the top-flight reduced from 20 to 18 teams, restrict relegation and give the Big Six unfettered power to make further changes.

There was open hostility from the Premier League and the Government to the proposals, which would also see the scrapping of the EFL Cup and FA Community Shield.

Liverpool, ran by John W Henry (left), are looking to reduce the league from 20 teams to 18

Man United and the Glazers (above) are working with Liverpool to push through the plans

In return the EFL would receive a £250million financial package to support clubs struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic. League clubs would also receive 25 per cent of the Premier League’s annual income going forward.

In addition, the Football Association would receive a £100m payment.

As part of the trade off, voting rights within the Premier League would be changed from the current 14-club majority voting system to hand the Big Six, plus Everton, West Ham and Southampton special status.

Six votes from these nine would be sufficient to pass proposals, effectively concentrating power in their hands.

This would pave the way for a shake-up of broadcasting rights with greater revenues potentially going to the top clubs rather than the current, more equal split.

Premier League and Championship clubs would be able to show in-match highlights on their own digital platforms.

But the proposals, developed by Liverpool owner John W Henry and his United counterpart Joel Glazer, are likely to be killed at birth despite the support of Parry and the EFL.

Chelsea and Tottenham are understood to be on board after their chairman, Bruce Buck and Daniel Levy respectively, were brought into the discussions last week.

But a meeting of the Big Six held on Thursday, which also involved Manchester City and Arsenal, broke up without agreement.

The rest of the Premier League only learned of the controversial plans when the Daily Telegraph reported them on Sunday morning. The reaction was one of shell-shock followed by widespread revulsion.

One Premier League source accused Parry of attempting to mount a hostile takeover of the richest league in the world.

The EFL Cup, won last season by Manchester City, could be scrapped as part of the proposals

Likewise the Community Shield, won by Arsenal back in August, could be scrapped 

He allegedly offered the Big Six a guarantee they could be accommodated in the Championship if the other 14 Premier League clubs refused to co-operate.

Sportsmail has been told Brighton, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion would not vote for a smaller Premier League under any circumstances, while given their recent history of relegation, Aston Villa, Newcastle and West Ham are also extremely sceptical.

Liverpool and United are planning to focus their lobbying efforts on the upwardly mobile Premier League clubs who have enjoyed recent success, such as Leicester City, Leeds United and Wolverhampton Wanderers, but there is no guarantee that they will buy into the plan.

The fact that West Ham are opposed to the idea, despite the offer of ‘long-term shareholder’ status along with the Big Six, Everton and Southampton — is indicative of the difficulties facing the reformists.

Everton and West Ham (pictured), as well as Southampton, were invited on board with the ‘Big Six’ to be afforded a special status under the plans

‘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,’ they said in a statement. ‘We are disappointed to see that Rick Parry, chair of the EFL, has given his on-the-record support.’

The Government’s response was equally dismissive.

A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: ‘We are surprised and disappointed that at a time of crisis, when we have urged the top tiers of professional football to come together and finalise a deal to help lower-league clubs, there appear to be backroom deals being cooked up that would create a closed shop at the very top of the game.

‘Sustainability, integrity and fair competition are absolutely paramount and anything that may undermine them is deeply troubling.

‘Fans must be at the front of all our minds, and this shows why our fan-led review of football governance will be so critical.’   

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