I started my most recent blog about the Premier Leagues recent Pay Per View scheme by suggesting that it had been a tumultuous week in the history of Premier League, and that was before the proposed plans for the restructuring of English Football were released.
Project Big Picture has been largely derided by most on-lookers, but it appears to have a great deal of consensus from those with the game. Matt Slater of The Athletic stated “If it went to a vote of the 92 clubs in the top 4 divisions, I think it gets 2/3 majority. It’s not. And it won’t. But what next?”
In the early 2000s Brighton chairman Dick Knight cashed in a number of future incentive based payments in a transfer deal with Aston Villa for the former Albion youth player and future Villa club captain Gareth Barry for £500k. These incentives included a 15% sell on clause, which after in 2009 he was sold to Man City for £12.5m effectively cost the club £1.8m alone.
But with Villa using their power to stall on payments, (one of which had to be deducted from their TV broadcasting fee and paid to Albion instead after Doug Ellis had refused to pay it) the club simply needed the cash to ensure its short term survival and couldn’t risk further delay in future payments being made effecting cash flow any further.
It’s on a similar basis I assume that the latest Premier League restructure plans have been able garner EFL support. Amongst great economic uncertainty and widespread threat of clubs going out of business throughout its three divisions, survival is paramount. Even if it is at the expense of future revenue and leads to a decrease in opportunities for success.
Part of the restructure plans would see the League Cup scrapped. A competition much derided but which forms a huge part of the EFL’s £119m a year TV deal. Yes, the increase in redistribution of the Premier league’s TV broadcasting revenue would see significantly increase revenue for EFL clubs. But at what expense?
What’s then to stop the Premier League from changing its mind and greatly reducing the distribution of funds a few years down the line?
Put simply the big clubs behind this like Liverpool and Man United are exploiting the adversity faced across English football for their own gain.
The Guardian journalist David Conn has been a rare voice in support of the plans and said “There should be a fight over ‘Big 6’ plans for Premier League power, but proposal to share 25% of TV deals with the EFL could secure the pyramid, and should not be swept off the table. The other 14 Premier League clubs have come up with nothing like it.”
It’s a fair point, I’m no fan of these plans but David’s right, intervention is needed to secure the futures of many clubs in the EFL and beyond and what are clubs like our own proposing?
No help whatsoever seemingly. Brighton’s CEO and Deputy Chairman Paul Barber has instead spent the last few weeks arguing that Premier League clubs need to protect their own interest first.
Yes Premier League club need to look after its own interest. But there is a huge difference between looking after your own business and doing so at the expense of others in your industry.
Paul Barber talks a lot about football clubs being a business, and they are. But unlike most businesses they’re hugely reliant on their competitors to increase the industry’s spectacle for their own financial success.
He’s come in for a lot of well-earned criticism lately, but it should be said that Paul Barber is a great Chief Executive and always represents the club well. However, in an industry in crisis with income plummeting across the board due to no fans being allowed in stadiums in English football’s top 6 tiers, protecting every job may sadly be a fallacy.
Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club prospers most when the entire football community prospers, losing clubs helps no one.
During the late 1990’s and 2000’s the club attracted funds from various sources to make ends meet amongst its lengthening stadium battle. Without the prosperity that the depth of the English football pyramid offers, who knows if that funding would have been forthcoming.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we all need each other a lot more than we previously appreciated. Premier League clubs need to do better to remember that.