Bolton Wanderers have appeared to have broadly come out in favour of the plans to restructure English football.
“Whilst we await details which will allow us to consider the proposed changes further, we are fully in favour of steps which can be taken to address the inequitable distribution of finances between the Premier League and EFL,” Sharon Brittan said in a statement on the club website.
The one big carrot for EFL clubs in this, would be a £250 million up front payment to be split amongst the EFL clubs, and 25% of the Premier League’s annual revenue going forward. It is currently 4%. It’s no surprise that some clubs, especially those who don’t have a realistic chance of ever reaching the top flight, would be interested. It’s also the first time the idea of the Premier League giving the EFL a chunk of money has been raised.
Let’s not think this is a massive act of altruism though. The plans involve cutting the Premier League from 20 to 18 teams, which helps explain where some of the money would come from in the first place. It also allows the “big six” and three other long standing Premier League clubs preferential treatment when it comes to Premier League voting – rather than the current one member one vote system, with a 14 team majority needed to pass anything major. If Project Big Picture happened, six votes from the top nine would suffice. Basically, what the “Big Six” want, they would get. This would massively unsettle whatever little competitive balance there is left.
On top of that, how long before they get their wish and B-teams end up being sprinkled through the lower divisions? And should Bolton one day find themselves back in the top flight, how exciting would it be to have a glass ceiling of about 11th place? It’d probably get a bit dull after a while.
The scrapping of the EFL Cup would also massively affect the EFL’s own TV deal – that competition, and not the actual leagues, is what Sky pays the majority of the £119 million per season deal. It would be around a two thirds decrease, and while that would be outweighed by the bigger cheque from the Premier League, it only further compromises the EFL’s independence.
It’s a very good thing that more money going from the Premier League to the EFL seems seriously on the table, but does this has to be at the expense of a further power grab by half a dozen clubs, who ultimately have their interests at heart first and foremost.