Taken together, the proposals amount to the biggest changes in English soccer in more than a quarter of a century. An 18-team Premier League. Hundreds of millions of dollars in extra payments from Premier League clubs to their poorer rivals. And an end to direct payment to clubs relegated from the top division.
The reform plan — the brainchild of the American owners of England’s two biggest and most-successful clubs, Manchester United and Liverpool — would remake the structure that governs English soccer’s four professional leagues, and replace it with what those behind the idea have pitched as a more sustainable model.
The biggest change would see the Premier League shrink from its current 20 teams to 18, perhaps as soon as 2022, and transfer critical decision-making power in the league from the consensus-driven model that has been at its core for three decades to one in which a handful of the richest teams get a bigger say.
The details were first reported by The Daily Telegraph and confirmed to The New York Times by two people familiar with the discussions. The people declined to be identified because talks remain ongoing. But Rick Parry, the chairman of the English Football League, the organization that represents the 72 clubs below the Premier League, who had been involved in the talks, gave his backing to the proposal in The Telegraph article.
The Premier League reacted with frustration, saying that the talks should have been carried out in a more open and inclusive manner.
“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 and we are disappointed to see that Rick Parry, Chair of the EFL, has given his on-the-record support,” the Premier League said in a statement.