The Premier League agreed a £50 million rescue package for League One and League Two clubs on Wednesday afternoon as Project Big Picture was abandoned after an emergency meeting.
The controversial proposal, led by Liverpool, Manchester United and English Football League chief Rick Parry, included a £250m rescue package, which had successfully gathered overwhelming support from clubs in the lower leagues, many of whom are facing dire financial situations.
However, after it was “unanimously agreed that Project Big Picture will not be endorsed or pursued” at a vote in which Premier League clubs outside the ‘Big Six’ expressed their absolute opposition, a bailout was agreed in order to support clubs further down the football pyramid.
“Also at today’s meeting it was agreed to make available a rescue package which aims to ensure that League One and League Two clubs will not go out of business as a result of the financial impact of Covid-19 and be able to complete the 2020/21 season,” the Premier League confirmed in a statement.
“League One and League Two clubs rely more heavily on matchday revenue and have fewer resources at their disposal than Championship or Premier League clubs and are therefore more at risk, especially at a time when fans are excluded from attending matches.
“This offer will consist of grants and interest-free loans totalling a further £50 million on top of the £27.2m solidarity payments already advanced to League One and League Two this year, making a total of £77.2m. Discussions will also continue with the EFL regarding Championship clubs’ financial needs. This addresses Government concerns about lower league clubs’ financial fragility.
“Football is not the same without attending fans and the football economy is unsustainable without them. The Premier League and all our clubs remain committed to the safe return of fans as soon as possible.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden described the Premier League’s offer of assistance to the EFL clubs in Leagues One and Two as “a good start”.
He wrote on Twitter: “This morning I reiterated calls of many in the football family for bigger clubs to look after smaller clubs.
“An offer has been made by the Premier League to EF L1&2 which is a good start. I urge them to work together and stay focused on helping clubs through this crisis.”
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