Leeds United CEO Angus Kinnear blasts 'treacherous' Project Big Picture

CRITICISM: Leeds United chief executive Angus KinnearCRITICISM: Leeds United chief executive Angus Kinnear
CRITICISM: Leeds United chief executive Angus Kinnear
Leeds United chief executive Angus Kinnear has hit out at the “treacherous” Project Big Picture put forward by Manchester United and Liverpool.

News of a proposal from the two north-west giants which would help redistribute wealth to the lower leagues but only at the expense of a blatant power-grab on behalf of the “Big Six” clubs has angered Kinnear, who outlined why in his programme notes for the Premier League home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Days after the idea was leaked, the two clubs backed down on it in the face of overwhelming opposition.

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“Fortunately for the domestic game, if the press reports are to be believed, a Faustian Pact that would have made Machiavelli blush was as transparent as it was treacherous,” wrote Kinnear.

“Hence, one of the most unedifying episodes in the glorious history of the Premier League was suitably short-lived as the FA, Football Supporters Association and (in a rare moment of clarity) the Government joined all 20 clubs in the Premier League in unanimously denouncing the plan.”

Perhaps, though, the doomed project has at least provided fresh impetus to a long-term review of the game's structure and finances which appeared to be going nowhere. Unlike Project Big Picture, it must involve everyone, according to Kinnear.

“Structuring a meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders – including, most critically, supporters – has the best chance of delivering far-reaching improvements while simultaneously proving sustaining the football pyramid and handing the over the keys to the top-flight (in exchange for the price of a second-choice left-back) are not mutually exclusive.

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“The populist narrative on the Premier League is often focused on elitist greed, but the reality is the majority of owners and executives are fans of English football who have first-hand experience of the EFL and empathy and friendships with our EFL counterparts. There is no lack of appreciation of their predicament or desire to contribute to a solution.”

Kinnear also called on the Government to play its part with supporters continuing to be locked out of games whilst certain indoor venues are allowed significant crowds for events.

English football has been behind closed doors since last season was suspended due to coronavirus in March, and having initially aimed for the return of supporters in November, the suggestion from Downing Street is that it could be 12 months before they return, threatening the existence of Football League and National League clubs dependent on gate receipts for their survival.

“The Government must also play its part and not persist in discriminating in their treatment of football in favour of other comparable industries,” added Kinnear. “The safe and phased return of crowds is key to all levels of our game but particularly to the lower leagues (many of whom normally operate below capacity naturally facilitating a proportion of the required social distancing).

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“The Government needs to quickly rationalise how the indoor London Palladium can be 50 per cent full for 'An Evening with Arsene Wenger' but the same number of people can’t be outdoors in the stadium he inspired which is 26 times bigger.”

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