Ed Woodward’s comments come after plans for Project Big Picture and for a European Premier League were leaked
Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has confirmed the club are playing a ‘leading role’ in trying to push through big changes to the Premier League.
United, along with Liverpool, were driving Project Big Picture, which was a radical proposal to reduce the Premier League to 18 teams, get rid of the League Cup, give more power to the ‘big six’ Premier League clubs and pay the 72 Football League clubs £250 million ($327m).
The project, which was described as the biggest shake-up in English football since the launch of the Premier League, was thrown out at a Premier League shareholder meeting, with many claiming it was a ‘power grab’ from the ‘big six’ but discussions of a change to the league system are still being pursued.
Woodward explained United’s views on potential changes in the future as he addressed investors after the club released their latest set of financial results.
“You may have read about the discussions taking place within English football about plans to address the near-term financial predicament created by the pandemic for clubs in the lower leagues,” said Woodward, whose comments also came amid reports United were in talks over being part of a European Premier League.
“We have been playing an active role in those discussions because we strongly believe in supporting the English football pyramid, both in the short term, to address the issues created by Covid-19, and in the long term to improve financial sustainability at all levels of the game.
“There will always be intense debate around any changes to the structure of football, just as there was before the formation of the Premier League 28 years ago.
“Now, at this critical juncture for the game, we must ensure that the huge success of the Premier League is reinforced while ensuring that the wider football pyramid continues to thrive in a rapidly changing media environment.
“Achieving this will require strategic vision and leadership. We are pleased that the Premier League has committed to working together on a plan for the future structures and financing of English football.
“Now it must deliver on that promise, and we are committed to playing a leading role in pushing that process towards a successful outcome.”
However, despite the club’s commitment to push through with Premier League changes Woodward revealed he had ‘no idea’ where reports of a potential European Premier League involving United come from.
“I saw the reports on that and candidly don’t know where that story came from, there’s not really anything for us to say,” Woodward said.
“We’re engaged on a very regular basis with ECA and UEFA about changes in the Champions League from 2024 onwards. They’re the conversations we’re having and are actively engaged in. I can’t comment on your question.”