Premier League Reform Plan Would Shrink League to 18 Clubs

One of the drivers behind the Premier League proposal, beyond increasing the power of the wealthiest teams, is to reduce cases of risk-taking by clubs in the second-tier Championship as they try to win promotion to the Premier League. Access can bring huge rewards, in the form of television and sponsorship revenues and even so-called parachute payments — worth tens of millions of dollars for years — if they are relegated back to the Championship.

The problem, English soccer has found, is eager teams have at times piled up huge losses in the hope of building a squad capable of reaching the Premier League or competing with rivals who have, reaped that windfall, and then returned.

Under the reform proposal, parachute payments would be scrapped and the annual riches provided by the Premier League would be shared more equitably with the teams in the second tier. Clubs in the next two divisions would benefit as well, with about 25 percent of the total shared by the Premier League reserved for them.

The proposal also calls for the abolition of the League Cup, a cup competition reserved for professional teams that has long-lost its luster among elite clubs, and the Community Shield, the traditional curtain-raiser to the league season, which matches the previous campaign’s Premier League champion against the F.A. Cup holder.

It also discusses financing for a women’s professional league independent of the Premier League and the Football Association. And perhaps fearful of a fan backlash, those behind the proposals have added elements aimed at winning the support of match-going spectators, including a cap of $26 on ticket prices for visiting fans, a commitment to introducing safe standing areas in stadiums and subsidized travel for supporters who attend away matches.

The changes outlined in the reform plan in England come at a moment of wider discussion in global soccer about the future of the game, with representatives at FIFA, the game’s global governing body, and UEFA, its counterpart in Europe, plotting their own road maps for the future. Some of the top English teams have already expressed interest in playing in a larger, restructured Champions League, the elite European club tournament that will be reformed for the 2024 season.

Parry, the E.F.L. chairman, suggested that change was inevitable, and that he would support the proposal because the clubs he represents would benefit from it.


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