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

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 04: General view inside the stadium during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on October 04, 2020 in Manchester, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Carl Recine - Pool/Getty Images) Photographer: Pool/Getty Images Europe

The English Football League has unveiled a series of proposals to overhaul competitive soccer in the country and narrow a yawning wealth gap between elite clubs and lower-ranking teams that’s been aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The revenues flowing from the investment and work of our top clubs has been largely limited to the top division, creating a sort of lottery,” English Football League Chairman Rick Parry said in a statement on Sunday.

The proposals include diverting 25% of media revenue from the top-flight Premier League, which includes super-clubs with international followings like Manchester United and Liverpool, to help the dozens of poorer teams in the EFL. They also outline plans for a 250-million pound ($326 million) rescue fund to bolster clubs suffering from a ticket-sales collapse during the coronavirus pandemic.

Britain’s Telegraph newspaper first reported the proposed reforms on Sunday.

English soccer is dominated by a “big six” of clubs including Manchester United and Liverpool which play in the 20-member Premier League. Because these teams have huge global followings and generate vast revenues, they are substantially richer than their counterparts in the EFL, some of which face a funding crisis.

The reforms, dubbed “Project Big Picture,” aim to reduce the financial gap between the bottom of the Premier League and the top of the EFL, according to the statement.

“Now is the time to address both the long-term health of the game and the most challenging short-term crisis it has ever faced,” Parry said.

The Premier League released a statement after the Telegraph’s report was published stating some of the proposals “could have a damaging impact” on the English game.

“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,” it said. “This work will continue.”


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