Aston Villa chief Christian Purslow attacks secret talks as Project Big Picture killed off

Villa chief executive Christian Purslow criticised the clandestine talks behind Project Big Picture as Premier League clubs rejected plans for a radical overhaul.

Christian Purslow (Luciana Guerra/PA)
Christian Purslow (Luciana Guerra/PA)

Plans which would have shifted the balance of power to the so-called ‘Big Six’ were yesterday kicked out as top-flight clubs agreed to offer a £50million rescue package for Leagues One and Two.

The latter is potentially huge news for Walsall, who have taken a huge financial hit while matches remain behind closed doors.

EFL clubs will meet today regarding the offer which will consist of grants and interest-free loans and given in addition to the £27.2m in solidarity payments already advanced to the leagues lower two divisions.

A Premier League statement read: “League One and League Two clubs rely more heavily on matchday revenue and have fewer resources at their disposal than Championship or Premier League clubs and are therefore more at risk, especially at a time when fans are excluded from attending matches.”

Talks will continue with Championship clubs over financial assistance, while the Premier League will also embark immediately on a strategic plan for the structures and financing of English football, after clubs rejected Project Big Picture.

That plan, drawn up by Liverpool, Manchester United and EFL chairman Rick Parry, would have seen the top flight provide the EFL with a £250m bailout.

But the Premier League would also have been reduced from 20 to 18 teams, with those at the top taking greater control over how the division was run.

The statement continued: “All 20 Premier League clubs today unanimously agreed that ‘Project Big Picture’ will not be endorsed or pursued by the Premier League, or The FA.

“Further, Premier League Shareholders agreed to work together as a 20-club collective on a strategic plan for the future structures and financing of English football, consulting with all stakeholders to ensure a vibrant, competitive and sustainable football pyramid.

“Clubs will work collaboratively, in an open and transparent process, focusing on competition structure, calendar, governance and financial sustainability.

“This project has the full support of the FA and will include engagement with all relevant stakeholders including fans, Government and, of course, the EFL.”

Purslow, who was present at yesterday’s shareholder meeting, had earlier questioned Parry’s role in the talks with Liverpool and United, which took place without the knowledge of the Premier League board and the other 18 clubs.

“I think it is amazing the chairman of the Football League would have chosen to go live with a plan without discussing it with the rest of the league,” he said.

“The way to (engage) with the Premier League is to talk to the chairman and chief executive of that league through the front door. Not to head over to Florida or Boston and discuss it with only two Premier League teams.”

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