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Premier League working with American group over reform plans

Richard Masters file photo
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

An American group is assisting with Premier League reform plans but has not been appointed in response to the emergence of the controversial Project Big Picture proposals, the PA news agency understands.

The league’s strategic review began in February and it is understood the Boston Consulting Group was appointed by the board early on in that process.

PBP plans, which were being developed separately to the league’s own review, came to light last month and were swiftly rejected by top-flight clubs.

Manchester United and Liverpool were involved in Project Big Picture plans

Manchester United and Liverpool were involved in Project Big Picture plans (Martin Rickett/PA)

The plans were described as a ‘power grab’ because they sought to concentrate greater influence over governance matters in the hands of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’. Liverpool and Manchester United were heavily involved in the development of the PBP proposals.

The league said in rejecting PBP that the clubs were committed to the strategic review, which would focus on “the future structures and financing of English football”.

It is understood that a working group comprised of a cross-section of club representatives is developing initial recommendations to put to the clubs at a shareholders’ meeting next month.

Those initial recommendations will cover areas such as the competition’s structure – whether to stick with 20 clubs or cut to 18 as proposed in PBP – deal with calendar issues like scrapping the Carabao Cup and tackle broadcasting arrangements.

Governance and revenue distribution will then be looked at next year.

The PA news agency understands the league is likely to have publicly abandoned its highly controversial pay-per-view model before November 21, when the Premier League returns after the upcoming international break.

Discussions must be completed with broadcast partners before it can be announce a change of position.

It is understood a return to the approach adopted at the start of the 2020-21 season – when all matches were televised by one of the league’s broadcast partners – is the likeliest solution, with the country under new lockdown conditions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The arrangement will then be reviewed early in the new year.