Dein: Flawed Project Big Picture had no hope

Project Big Picture proposals “had more holes than a golf course” and were never going to be voted through by Premier League clubs, claims David Dein.

Dein, former co-owner and vice-chairman of Arsenal and vice-chairman of the FA, now serves as an ambassador for the Premier League and FA.

‘Project Big Picture’ proposals

  • Premier League reduced to 18 clubs
  • No EFL Cup or Community Shield
  • Special status for nine longest serving clubs – ‘Big Six’, Everton, West Ham, Southampton
  • Only six of the nine longest-serving clubs need to vote for major change
  • £250m immediate compensation for EFL
  • Figure also represents coronavirus financial bail-out
  • Club who finishes 16th in Premier League to replace sixth-placed Championship club in EFL play-offs
  • Premier League to commit 25 per cent of future revenue to EFL

Dein was at the helm at Arsenal when the Premier League was formed in 1992 and believes the recent proposals, which were rejected in a shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday, were a threat to the democratic structure of the division.

“It was an unguided missile that came over the Premier League fence. I got the feeling it was not released, but it escaped. Although the document itself had some merit, it was deeply flawed,” he told Sky Sports News.


Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes the English game needs a full restructure and potentially reduce the number of professional clubs

“The tree has been shaken, the roots have actually been attacked. The fundamental part of the Premier League constitution was always the voting structure which was democratic – one club, one vote, a two-thirds majority. Television money was redistributed by a formula which has stood the test of time for 28 years.

“It was certainly [the bigger clubs] flexing their muscles, it has probably been bubbling for a couple of years. Instead of the big picture, it has become the big puncture. The proposal had more holes than a golf course, it needs some restructuring.

“There is no way in that form that it could have ever gone through, they would have never got 14 votes. Why promote something when you are not going to win the battle? It doesn’t ring true when at best they may have got six votes. Maybe they are hoping this is a precursor for something else.

“For 24 years I was involved with one of the most glamorous clubs in Europe and for many years we considered ourselves to be the wealth generators. The owners have their objectives but we cannot forget the component parts of the league. There are 20 teams and they all need an [equal] voice and a vote.”

‘Premier League astute in their handling’

EFL chairman Rick Parry and Premier League chief executive Richard Masters 3:20

Sky Sports News reporter James Cole explains the Premier League clubs’ decision to reject Project Big Picture but to create an emergency financial package for clubs in League One and League Two

Dein did reserve some praise for the Premier League for the manner in which they responded to the proposals and suggested the release of the plan could at least act as a catalyst for important discussions regarding the structure of English football.

He said: “I thought the Premier League were astute in the way they headed it off because it could have got very messy. The clubs [making the proposal] could have been ostracised if they were not careful. I hope good will come out of it now because there will be a structural review.

“There are some good things in it, certain things need to be looked at. The whole strength of English football is the pyramid system, the lower divisions must be protected, who can they go to? The Premier League is always the first port of call.”

Oliver Dowden is Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 1:27

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden says he is sceptical about Project Big Picture but believes the problems within football can be resolved by those within the game itself

‘Owners must respect founder members’ agreement’

When asked if he had any sympathy for the bigger clubs who may be in favour of the proposals, Dein was insistent that so-called wealth generators cannot profit at the expense of other teams in the same fairly-structured league.

“They consider themselves to be the wealth generators and they want their pound of flesh, but this cannot be at the expense of other teams, we are in a league,” he added.

“The danger is that it is divisive, the clubs who are involved in this have a lot of reparation work to do now. The Premier League have a role to play to make sure everyone can sing from the same hymn-sheet.

“The lower divisions are desperate, some are weeks away from going out of business. Even some Premier League clubs are in a bad state, the economy of the whole country is in trouble, football is a microcosm of that.

“[Owners of the big-six clubs] have to respect the founder members’ agreement, one club one vote, that is written in stone and you move from there.”

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