English Soccer Overhaul Risks Power Grab by Rich, Minister Warns

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U.K. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said he fears plans by English soccer’s Premier League to help bail out lower divisions while changing the governance of the sport amount to a power grab by the richest clubs.

Asked by Sky News whether the proposal — dubbed “Project Big Picture” — amounted to a good plan to protect smaller clubs or a “power grab” by the big Premier League teams, Dowden replied: “I fear it’s the latter.”

English Soccer League Proposes Reform To Cut Sport’s Wealth Gap

The proposals, outlined by the English Football League on Sunday, would divert 25% of media revenue from the top-level Premier League to help dozens of smaller teams in the EFL. They also include plans for a 250 million pound ($326 million) rescue fund to bolster clubs suffering from a ticket-sales collapse during the coronavirus pandemic.

But the Telegraph newspaper reported the plans would also concentrate power in a handful of clubs with international followings, including defending Premier League champion Liverpool, and Manchester United.

“I’m quite skeptical about this,” Dowden, whose government remit includes sports, said on Monday. “I’m afraid if we keep having these backroom deals and all these other things going on, we will have to look again at the underlying governance of football.”

Dowden also said his Conservative Party had promised a fan-led review of the sport in its election manifesto last year, and that recent events “have made this seem more urgent.” He declined to say what such a review could do.

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