Richard Buxton: Liverpool and Manchester United in EPL power-grab ploy
Their 'Project Big Picture' plan includes reducing majority vote to just six from 14
English football's most successful clubs are now trying to rip it apart from within.
Naked opportunism stands at the heart of Liverpool and Manchester United's unholy alliance.
This dastardly plot was not dreamt up in direct response to the crippling impact that the coronavirus pandemic is having domestically, but hatched across a three-year period.
On multiple levels, "Project Big Picture" is a complete affront to the game.
Plans to cut down the English Premier League to 18 teams and allowing its flagship sides to ride roughshod over their less-celebrated peers are merely the tip of this obscene iceberg.
Where 14 member clubs presently hold the balance of power in crucial votes, that number would be reduced to a majority of just six to favour the established big hitters.
Abolishing the League Cup and Community Shield, staples of the seasonal calendar, go hand in hand with measures designed to also hinder those further down the pyramid.
Struggling clubs beneath the top tier of English football may be tempted to accept a financial quick fix to stave off the existential threat many now face due to Covid-19.
But the short-term benefits are far outweighed by the wider repercussions, with the gap between the EPL newcomers and established mainstays widening insurmountably.
If reports are to be believed, Liverpool and United's American owners already carry a disproportionate influence on the EPL's corridors of power, with claims they personally vetted the appointment of its current chief executive Richard Masters earlier this year.
Attempting to dictate the league's entire structure, however, is still a considerable leap - especially given the evidence that their respective clubs are hardly operated flawlessly.
Old Trafford has been treated as the Glazer family's personal trust fund, paying out shareholder dividends while simultaneously footing the bill for a debt which continues to stand at an eye-watering £429.1 million (S$759m) despite 15 years' of ownership.
At Anfield, Fenway Sports Group's on-field success has been undermined by boardroom blunders over ticket price hikes, brazen trademark bids and financial corner-cutting using the UK's coronavirus Job Retention Scheme all ending in grovelling climbdowns.
Such questionable track records would automatically disqualify the two hierarchies from dictating the terms of a European Super League.
That the potential breakaway is no longer wielded as an alternative in this latest landgrab ploy is particularly revealing.
Appetite for a continental offshoot has diminished considerably during the 12 years since the original G-14 collective expanded into a nearly 250-strong European Club Association, despite Juventus president Andrea Agnelli continuing to push the envelope.
Even Agnelli's outlook has shifted to an expanded Champions League that allows legacy teams automatic qualification, having insisted in March that AS Roma merited a place in the competition more than Atalanta, who finished above them in the last two seasons.
Such flawed logic would become par for the course in the EPL under the short-sightedness of "Project Big Picture".
The current radio silence is incredibly deafening, especially from a select few that stand to gain the most refusing to publicly endorse it.
No club wants to be perceived as facilitating the homegrown game's takeover by money men in Boston and the Everglades whose main concern will always be the bottom line.
Liverpool and United felt bold enough to cook up this harebrained scheme.
Should it pass muster, they must own the potential carnage it is already threatening to wreak.
SELECTED PROPOSALS FROM 'PROJECT BIG PICTURE'
- EPL reduced from 20 to 18 clubs
- Two EPL sides automatically relegated each season and replaced by top-two Championship sides
- 16th-placed EPL club enter play-off with third, fourth and fifth-placed Championship clubs
- League Cup and Community Shield abolished
- Special status for nine longest-serving EPL clubs ("big six", plus Everton, West Ham United and Southampton)
- £250m (S$442.1m) immediate compensation to EFL