The Premier League descended into civil war on Sunday following the emergence of secret plans for a radical restructure of the top flight hatched by Liverpool and Manchester United.
On an extraordinary day, the Premier League executive also launched a scathing attack on EFL chairman Rick Parry for supporting Project Big Picture, which would cut the division to 18 clubs, restrict relegation and give the Big Six unfettered power to make further changes.
The Government condemned those involved for indulging in a ‘backroom deal that would create a closed shop at the top of the game’.
The Premier League went into civil war as plans for 'Project Big Picture' were revealed
Liverpool, ran by John W Henry (left), are looking to reduce the league from 20 teams to 18
The open hostility of the Premier League and many of their clubs to proposals developed by Liverpool owner John Henry and his United counterpart Joel Glazer, with input from Parry, are likely to kill them at birth.
One Premier League source accused Parry of attempting to mount a hostile takeover of the richest league in the world by proposing an agreement to collectively sell the media rights for all four divisions, and allegedly offering the Big Six a guarantee they could be accommodated in the Championship if the other 14 clubs refused to co-operate.
‘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.’
Man United and the Glazers (above) are working with Liverpool to push through the plans
EFL chairman Rick Parry (above) has given his seal of approval towards the plans
The Government’s response was equally dismissive, although more surprising given it is an internal dispute between two privately run sporting organisations.
The row threatens to further jeopardise the chances of lower-league clubs receiving financial assistance to help them cope with the Covid-19 crisis, as the Government have made it clear they will not help and relations between the Premier League and EFL are increasingly fraught.
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.’
The radical proposals, revealed on the Daily Telegraph website on Sunday morning, sprung from conversations that have been on-going between Henry and Glazer since 2017.