FA chief says big clubs threatened to form breakaway league amid restructure row

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke has said that he had been involved in initial Project Big Picture discussions but walked away in the spring "when the principal aim of these discussions became the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few clubs with a breakaway league mooted as a threat".

He said in a letter to the FA Council: "I of course, discontinued my involvement and counselled a more consensus-based approach involving all Premier League clubs and its Chair and CEO."

He warned that the FA had "substantial controls" it could use to thwart any proposals it felt would run counter to the best interests of the game.

Clarke added: "We, the FA Board and Council, have to ensure that any changes would be to the long-term benefit of the whole of football and we have substantial controls to help ensure that the best interests of the game are served by any new proposals.

"In addition to the Special Share in the Premier League, which prevents certain changes being made to the constitution without the FA's consent, it is also the FA's responsibility to sanction competitions in England – including any proposed new competition – as well as being responsible for licensing clubs, through UEFA, to play in Europe. Additionally, UEFA look to us to nominate the league, and therefore the clubs, that will play in their competitions.

"Let's continue to work together to determine what is best for English football, with full dialogue between all key stakeholders.

"However, there is more to our game than economics. Change must benefit clubs, fans and players; not just selective balance sheets. In these difficult times unity, transparency and common purpose must override the interests of the few."

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