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“Project Big Picture”: A Warning Shot For European Football

‘Project Big Picture’ is a proposal fronted by the owners of Manchester United and Liverpool which essentially would consolidate power to the ‘big six’ football clubs in the Premier League.

The proposal may have been rejected by the Premier League clubs yesterday, but urgent questions surrounding governance, long-term sustainability and solidarity throughout the English pyramid persist.

The latest developments in English football have shown that it is more important than ever for the stakeholders to work together to save the game – clubs, leagues, players, governments and fans. It is vital that national supporters organisations are a part of this process. The accumulation of power between a few clubs at the top of the pyramid won’t fix the problem – not in English football and not in football across the rest of Europe. The remedy to fix the current system should look beyond weathering the impact of the pandemic at the long-term sustainability of the game and developing genuine solidarity between the elite level and lower levels of football to build a more resilient football system.

We are in the middle of a lasting financial crisis, which affects all aspects of life. The effects of Covid-19 on all levels of football, whether grassroots or professional, have been devastating. For most of SD Europe’s membership and wider network, the growing gap between the big and small clubs and the big and small leagues has been felt for years and an even bigger gap could have fatal impacts on them. The question is how can the revenue of clubs be increased that don’t play in European competitions but are part of the football pyramid, provide the social structure of the sport and develop the young talent of the future. How can we establish sustainable structures, which not just save football from a pandemic, but make it fit for the future.

Unsere Kurve, SD Europe’s members in Germany, as members of the fan initiative “Zukunft Profifussball”, have developed a structured proposal about how to future proof football in the country.

To really find a solution to the problem, SD Europe believes the focus should not just be on how to recover from Covid-19’s impact or the UCL reform process. The focus needs to be on the national level, where the gap between the elite clubs and the rest and the big five leagues and the rest is a concern. In each country, between the elite and grassroots, is where the problem lies. The imbalance needs to be addressed and solutions need to be found to prepare and equip the system for the challenges ahead but also to ensure football’s social value can unleash its real potential.

SD Europe urges football stakeholders to unite behind the cause of ensuring football’s future across Europe by forging task forces on the national level composed of all relevant stakeholders (leagues, national associations, fans, players, government, experts, etc) as seen in the Bundesliga. This needs to be implemented at the European level too through a European task force of all stakeholders to address not just the damage caused by the pandemic but the long-term future.

We share the concern of the Football Supporters Association in England and the supporters trusts and groups of the ‘big six’ Premier League Clubs. The UK Government promised a fan-led review, which would have the potential to establish more sustainable structures for football.  It is vital for the FSA to be involved in the reform discussions with all relevant stakeholders.



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