The Premier League has never been a level playing field.
Money has ruled the beautiful game since the inception of the new top division of English football in 1992, though of course, power has shifted back and forth between several sides over the years.
Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool are the historic super powers, Chelsea and Manchester City are the relatively young up-starts, while Leeds were once a big player at the top of the Premier League game.
Everton and Aston Villa could be classed as historical giants, mostly present in the league since ’92, while Newcastle have flirted with the big boys on numerous occasions without landing a stinging blow.
Blackburn and Leicester have gate-crashed the established order to win titles, but they couldn’t sustain their success to rule the roost.
Right now, the Premier League is facing up to a potential overhaul led by the big six, but who are the key clubs involved in the elite gang?
RadioTimes.com brings you up to speed with the so-called Premier League big six and why they are pushing for change in the top flight.
Who are the big six in the Premier League?
Manchester United: The most successful club in Premier League era history has lost its sheen in recent years, but its influence is unparalleled.
United won the title in 13 of the first 21 Premier League seasons under Sir Alex Ferguson but have failed to top the table since his retirement in 2013.
Liverpool: Pre-Premier League, Liverpool were the top dogs in English football with a mass of top division titles and domestic trophies to boot.
They’re back on top now after finally lifting the title during the Premier League era, and with a blossoming young squad, bold manager and money to burn, the Reds aren’t going anywhere.
Arsenal: See ‘Manchester United’. Arsenal were a huge force under Arsene Wenger before his retirement and remain the only side to go a whole season undefeated.
They are steadily emerging from the wilderness under Mikel Arteta, while their global brand continues to draw in thousands, probably millions, of fans around the world.
Chelsea: The Blues had only won one top division title before Roman Abramovich’s takeover in 2004. That’s fewer than 19 other teams can boast.
However, Russian money has revolutionised the club in west London to become the next most successful team after United during the Premier League era. They now boast six titles in their history, the same number as Manchester City and Sunderland.
Manchester City: See ‘Chelsea’. City had won two league titles prior to their Abu Dhabi-backed takeover, and have won four since.
They were always relegation whipping boys in years gone by, but they have firmly established themselves at the top of the English football ladder. The City Football Group also owns an expanding portfolio of franchises around the world including New York City FC and Melbourne City.
Tottenham: Infrastructure-wise, Tottenham are almost unmatched. Their brand new stadium is fit for the finest in world football, their state-of-the-art training facilities are second to none, their trophy cabinet… well, it’s not quite brimming.
Spurs have been the nearly-men for a long while now, having finished runners up in the Premier League and Champions League in recent years. Their only trophy of the last 21 years is a solitary League Cup win in 2008, but they’re primed for a big future.
What is Project Big Picture?
Various reports surfaced at the weekend outlining plans for Project Big Picture, being spearheaded by owners and operators of the big six teams.
The proposal would see a large cash sum of £250 million, plus 25 per cent of future Premier League revenue, handed to teams in the English Football League (Championship, League One, League Two).
The purpose of this money would be to subsidise losses due to COVID-19, while also attempting to address the imbalance in cash between the Premier League and the rest of the footballing pyramid.
Sounds good, right?
However, the plans have whipped up much controversy given the price of the Premier League clubs’ apparent generosity would be that the nine longest-surviving clubs in the Premier League – including the big six – would be handed all the power in votes.
Only six of the nine clubs need to vote to enable major change in future decision-making processes, while the top flight would also be reduced to 18 teams.
The current system hands a vote to all 20 Premier League teams, with 14 required to vote for change.
One major area of impact would be in the ratification of future takeovers. Effectively, the big six could vote to block other teams being taken over, thus making it harder for Chelsea or Man City situations to arise and upset the established order.
Plans would also allow Premier League teams to sell up to eight of their matches directly to fans overseas – a move that would enormously help the global brands of the big six – while the EFL Cup and Community Shield would be discontinued.
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