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Grimsby Town manager Ian Holloway unleashes fury at Project Big Picture

Grimsby Town boss Ian Holloway

Ian Holloway has branded the men behind Project Big Picture ‘selfish’ as English football was plunged into civil war over the weekend.

Details of the secretive deal deliberated by Liverpool, Manchester United and EFL chairman Rick Parry were leaked over the weekend, and has been met by widespread condemnation.

Labelled as a ‘power and money grab move’, Project Big Picture would see voting powers in the Premier League reduced to nine clubs, those who have been in the top flight the longest.

This would be the established top six of Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, plus Southampton, Everton and West Ham.

That would leave sides recently promoted from the Championship, such as Wolves, Sheffield United, and Leeds United, with little say in league meetings.

Holloway, a manager who won promotion to the top flight with Blackpool, has been left appalled at the plans made by a small minority at the country’s biggest clubs and the EFL’s most senior administrator.

Project Big Picture, revealed by the Daily Telegraph, would see the Premier League revert to an 18-team league from 2022-23 and have the Championship incorporate two clubs to expand to a 24-team division – the same as League One and League Two.

“What are Liverpool and Manchester United thinking? How selfish are you? Breaks my heart to say it, I don’t get it,” Holloway said.

“I listened to the Government’s man who’s in charge of it all, and at last he’s started to threaten them and say we’re going to have to step in.

“I think governance is absolutely vital right now, because money is going out of the game left, right and centre, billions and billions of pounds buying footballers, and it’s going out the game.

“The game needs it, put it back in the game, get the Government to control our game and make sure the people at the bottom still have a club.

“Greed is disgusting, and that’s what I’m seeing everywhere. It’s absolutely vile, and I hate it, so step in. Go and tell the top clubs that you can’t do that, please. Somebody needs to.

“Why do they need two less teams in the top flight? Bit of a threat are they? Not where you want to be in the league at the moment are you?

“You should be under threat, the game doesn’t belong to you. The club might, but for how long? The game belongs to people in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It belongs to us.”


Project Big Picture in brief

  • EFL clubs to receive a split of 25 per cent of Premier League net income, estimated at £758m; 75 per cent of the sum would go to the Championship, 15 to League One and 10 to League Two
  • Redistribution of Premier League income among top-flight clubs no longer shared evenly, but to clubs picked on merits such as number of times picked for TV broadcast and a ‘three-year aggregate’ coefficient
  • No change to League One or League two regarding promotion-relegation, but only two will be automatically promoted from Championship with a play-off taking place between teams who finish third, fourth and fourth and the Premier League’s 16th-placed side
  • Strict salary caps in the EFL, as is seen in most American sports
  • EFL cedes broadcast rights to Premier League
  • £205m paid to grassroots and ‘good causes’
  • Community Shield and Carabao Cup competitions scrapped
  • Premier League parachute payments to relegated teams would be scrapped in 2023-24, this money would instead be spread among EFL clubs
  • A new women’s league that is run independently of the FA and Premier League
  • Clubs will be allowed to loan up to 15 players, which would appear to mean the limit of five loan players in a match-day squad would be scrapped by the EFL
  • Stadium maintenance grants totalling £88m given by the Premier League to Wembley Stadium, Championship, League One and League Two clubs annually

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