Part three of the Big Picture interview with John Nixon.
Will EFL clubs get more money than they’re getting now out of the Big Picture proposals?
Yes, very definitely, and it means that we’re not going to do deals on our own, in isolation to the Premier League and so forth. We’re going to do a deal that’s for football in England. That should give us more buying power.
It appears, with the reduction of the PL to 18 and the reduction overall to 90 clubs that we’re willing to sacrifice two clubs to facilitate this restructure, and those clubs will likely come from League Two?
It doesn’t actually say that. It says that these are some of the points that are going to be discussed. It’s quite easy for us in League Two to say that we would like to operate with 26 clubs. That might not be the case, but we could do that just as easily as have to lose two.
So the wording on 90 clubs may not be what actually happens?
It’s not set in stone at all. As I said earlier, this is a document that we can now start talking about. The clubs will shape where the document goes because it’s the clubs that vote on it at the end of the day.
Would you expect a backlash from your League Two clubs if we do give away two clubs to get the reshaping done as per the proposal?
I don’t know, I think they’d be thinking hard about it. The problem is that when you get cash you start to view things differently. It’s something we need to discuss so that we can get a feel for what we all think the right shape is going forward. It’s not something I would speculate on.
Carabao Cup – EFL Cup – has been a huge revenue earner for the EFL, it’s been a jewel in the crown. Are we happy to give that away?
I wouldn’t say anybody is happy to give it away, in fact it’s a key part and it’s a key game to get into Europe, as it stands. But the emergence of this European Conference and the fact that it’s dropped down a level means that you’ve got to take another look at it. You’ve got to look at it as well in view of the fact that there’s a lot of games to be played, and we’re struggling at present to fit them in. They’ve cut out replays in the FA Cup in the later rounds, as you know, and the Carabao Cup games go straight to penalties, because that competition had to be concentrated into a smaller timescale. It’s just that it’s in the mix to be looked at, as is the Community Shield.
How much money would we lose in broad terms, because it is a huge earner?
It’s a big revenue earner for the EFL, I’m not sure of the total amount, but it is a big revenue earner. When it comes down to it it’s the Premier League clubs that usually got through to the final so, yes, it is a big earner and it would need to be compensated for, and there would need to be a make way if it wasn’t there. As I say, this is all to be discussed.
Just to clarify on the two teams who may have to go as part of the reduction to 90 – has the process for that been discussed. Will the bottom four be relegated, will there simply be no promotion from the National League, or is there another formula?
No, it hasn’t been discussed, so it’s open for us to decide how we would shape the league. It’s the clubs who will decide.
Does it set alarm bells ringing that we would be giving added muscle to the big six or nine?
It doesn’t ring so much of an alarm bell for me, or probably for the EFL, but it probably rings more of an issue in the Premier League. I understand that the proposal says that these are the nine clubs that have been in the Premier League the longest, so they therefore feel that they probably need to have the biggest say. They’re all well run clubs, and they have good systems in place, and they’re all a key part of English football. Some sides will see this as a money grabbing situation, but on the other side they do know the game, they know the game internationally and domestically, and if there’s a trust there then we have to build on it.
Their reduction to 18 achieves what – it certainly saves money in terms of not having to pay two shares and no longer paying parachutes?
It brings the alignment and gives it a much more even flow into Championship. I’ve not seen the absolute detail, but the reduction of two clubs and the parachute payments frees up a lot of cash that will ultimately fall down into the lower levels.
We already get £1m for the EFL Trophy and payments for EPPP from the PL – are those ringfenced or will they become part of the payments from the Big Picture going forward?
EPPP tends to be done by the Professional Game Board, and the Trophy we do at Professional Game Board as well. The Trophy is specifically for the lower leagues and the EPPP is across the different categories of academies. So that’s decided between the Premier League and the EFL, and we involve the FA, so they’re fully aware of what cash is going into youth system and to the EFL Trophy. The Trophy, remember, is to try and encourage some of the under-23 teams to play their players and get them used to playing men’s football. It’s all part of a big scheme.
Will the meetings with clubs this week start to finalise the detail of the proposal?
League Two clubs are meeting for an hour this afternoon [Tuesday], and the other divisions are doing the same to start to let everyone know what they think. That’ll all be taken away and we’ll work from there. The other meetings we’re having this week are to do with finance and for us to try to save clubs and stop them from going over the edge in this Covid situation.
If the proposal hits the skids, is there a plan B?
I think this proposal will be the beginning, it’s kicking the ball off. It won’t end up in the shape it is now, but it will morph into something. I think the fact that we’re talking is a big positive. Do we need a plan B? Well if you don’t do that we’re going to do that … no, what you have to do is try to get as much as you possibly can that you can all get agreement on so that we can move forward and make the English game sustainable. I’m very confident that it will morph into something.
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