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A dreadful deal designed to close ranks

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Yesterday’s announcement was an interesting one as it announced that it could help the EFL clubs to the tune of £250m payment but only on some terms that makes it harder to reach the Premier League and takes a step closer to a closed shop.

Reducing the top flight from 20 teams to 18, adding in the 16th placed side to the Championship play offs and reducing the total number of clubs in the top four divisions to 90 are just part of the things that the deal has suggested.  Add to that the cancellation of the League Cup (not a FA Premier League trophy by the way) and the Community Shield just smacks of an organisation trying to create a power grab rather than a rescue package.

Let’s not pretend here that the clubs in the Premier League cannot afford that £250m even without the restructure that they have proposed.  At the level they are talking about here that kind of figure is a miniscule amount of money and one that would make the difference between survival and extinction for many clubs especially those towards the end of the football league ladder.   And it could be achieved by a simple small reduction in overall wages across the spectrum to try and at least establish some level of normality in the game that is so far fetched from the reality of the world it’s sad to think about what it has become.

But oh no.  “Led by Liverpool and Manchester United” the ‘powerhouses’ in the game have decided this would be the perfect opportunity to try and restrict the clubs coming into the Premier League and ultimately ensuring that everything that they do is self serving and designed to make them richer over time whilst throwing a bone (admittedly not an insignificant one) to sides who should be grateful that they should even be considered in the same breath as this conglomerates.

Scrapping the league cup will take away one of the opportunities for sides to face these teams and create a pay day that in itself can pay for a season’s worth of wages and by pushing one of their own into the Championship play offs they hope to be able to seal away one of the sides coming in to infiltrate their little closed shop.   It will be the first step towards even less promotion places you mark my words.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport condemned what it called a “backroom deal”.

“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,” a DCMS spokesperson said.

“Sustainability, integrity and fair competition are absolutely paramount and anything that may undermine them is deeply troubling. Fans must be front of all our minds, and this shows why our fan led review of football governance will be so critical.”

And then we come to the parachute payments that under this wonderful deal will be scrapped.  The kind of parachute payments that have done a huge amount to keep us afloat the last couple of seasons.  Without them teams like us will go into the Premier League and not spend to stay there because the pain of relegation financially would not be possible to bear if we did.   Teams get promoted, sell best players, buy cheap, get relegated, one step nearer to a closed shop.  The deal isn’t sounding so good all of a sudden is it?

The Premier League itself was critical of the deal “English football is the world’s most watched, and has a vibrant, dynamic and competitive league structure that drives interest around the globe,” a Premier League statement said.

“To maintain this position, it is important that we all work together. Both the Premier League and the FA support a wide-ranging discussion on the future of the game, including its competition structures, calendar and overall financing particularly in light of the effects of Covid-19.

“Football has many stakeholders, therefore this work should be carried out through the proper channels enabling all clubs and stakeholders the opportunity to contribute.”

The Premier League statement added: “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 has been working in good faith with its clubs and the EFL to seek a resolution to the requirement for Covid-19 rescue funding. This work will continue.”

Parry supporting this deal is no surprise to anyone.  His input into the way the game has handled the pandemic has been shambolic and the League have shown themselves to be weak in all of their dealings.   Parry is one of those people who will take the crumbs from the top table and think he is benefitting his members but he simply isn’t.

These proposals are dreadful if they come anywhere near fruition and football fans should stand up against them although sadly those “fans” of the top 6 who just care about the £150m transfer budgets will lap them up in the way that the clubs know that they will.

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