London: Liverpool and Manchester United have angered the Premier League and the British government by formulating plans to reshape English football with a power grab that would also reduce the size of the top competition to 18 teams.
The plans have been engineered by the American-owned clubs in conjunction with Rick Parry, the chairman of the English Football League, which features the 72 professional teams in the three tiers below the Premier League.
Liverpool and Manchester United want more power due to being in the Premier League for longer.Credit:Getty
But agreeing to this package of changes would also lead to changes in the Premier League only needing approval from six of the nine-longest serving clubs — rather than the currently required 14 of 20 teams.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government saw that as a power play by the wealthiest clubs. It chimes with moves by the European Club Association to have a maximum of 18 teams in leagues, creating space for the elite to play each other more often in continental games.
“We are surprised and disappointed that at a time of crisis when we have urged the top tiers of professional football to come together and finalise a deal to help lower league clubs there appear to be backroom deals being cooked up that would create a closed shop at the very top of the game," the government said in a statement.
"Sustainability, integrity and fair competition are absolutely paramount and anything that may undermine them is deeply troubling. Fans must be front of all our minds, and this shows why our fan-led review of football governance will be so critical.”
Liverpool and United are both owned by American sports tycoons and have remained publicly silent, while Parry's remarks provided apparent cover for them in public. He was Premier League CEO at the inception in 1992 before moving into the same position at Liverpool in 1998 for 11 years.
“This isn’t about giving power to a limited number of named clubs,” Parry said. “This is about recognising that those clubs who’ve been in the Premier League the longest get a greater share of the voting rights.”
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