Tranmere owners say Project Big Picture could ‘destroy’ football

Mark and Nicola Palios, owners of Tranmere Rovers FC, say a new transformation plan proposed by Liverpool and Manchester United would squash the ambitions of smaller clubs. Tony McDonough reports

Mark Palios
Tranmere Rovers FC co-owner Mark Palios


Tranmere Rovers co-owners Mark and Nicola Palios say a new transformation plan proposed by Liverpool and Manchester United could destroy football in UK.

Project Big Picture was revealed earlier this week. It would see the Premier League reduced from 20 to 18 clubs and the League Cup scrapped. The English Football League (EFL) would get 25% of all future TV deals plus a £250m bail-out.

Both Mark and Nicola Palios say the cash offer may seem attractive to clubs outside of the Premier League. But they add it would concentrate too much power in the hands of the bigger clubs and make it harder for smaller clubs to advance.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Mr Palios, who is chairman of the League Two club, said: “Project Big Picture is massively dangerous for the future of the game. It’s selling the future and I don’t want to be party to that. It’s fine for owners, sitting in another country, to make these plans but they are coming into our game, our culture, without any thought of what people were far-sighted enough to put in place 150 years ago.

“If this is voted through, you could be looking in five years’ time at a Premier League 2. What’s to stop the small group of clubs who would suddenly hold all the power?  You can hold a gun to clubs’ heads and give them the cash now, but they need to think about what the pyramid will look like in five, 20, 40 years’ time.”

Mr Palios said the new structure would end the dream of clubs such as Tranmere who may have future ambitions to break into the Championship or the Premier League. He added he hoped the Premier League would see it “for the land-grab it is”.

Posting on Twitter earlier this week, Nicola Palios said: “There are some clear good elements to Project Big Picture but they are hugely outweighed by the downsides that will destroy the game in this country.

“Once you’ve given all the power to a small group they can do what they want… We must not be blinded by the short-term offer of a cash lifeline. It’s like someone offering you a million pounds but shooting you soon after.”

The plan has also met opposition from within the Premier League. Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow told the BBC Radio 4’s Today show: “I don’t think we should give too much credence to this particular plan.”

However, former Liverpool FC chief executive and current chairman of the EFL, Rick Parry, is backing Project Big Picture. He said: “This is two of our great clubs showing leadership and exercising responsibility.

“It was May when the Government was saying we need the Premier League to step up to the plate. What’s wrong with us talking about a plan that is demonstrably in the best interest of the pyramid and of our clubs.”

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