Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani’s description of Project Big Picture as a ‘disgrace’ has angered executives at Big Six clubs, who are privately claiming he is guilty of hypocrisy.
The Italian’s intervention last weekend, in which he condemned Liverpool and Manchester United for their ‘back-door’ machinations, further exposed the divisions in the top flight as there is considerable resentment among the elite at being lectured by a club who were only promoted last summer.
The Big Six believe that their longevity in the Premier League and contribution to the huge growth in the value of its overseas TV rights deserve to be recognised with a greater influence in how the competition is run. This led to the proposal that nine clubs be given ‘long-term shareholder status’ contained in PBP.
Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani has been privately accused of hypocrisy by Big Six club chiefs
Although widely criticised by clubs last week, the issue of governance reform has been included in the Premier League’s strategic review and Radrizzani’s intervention may embolden the big clubs even further.
‘Leeds have played four Premier League matches in 16 years, so being lectured by their owner is difficult to take,’ a source told Sportsmail.
‘Given they’ve spent most of the last 20 years in the EFL, is it fair that they get the same say as the clubs who’ve made the Premier League the biggest in the world?’
Radrizzani is accused of hypocrisy because, when Leeds were in the Championship, he proposed creating Premier League 2 in defiance of the wishes of the Premier League, the EFL and the FA.
Liverpool owner John W Henry (pictured left) helped draw up the controversial shake-up plans
Joel Glazer, owner of Manchester United, had also been an architect in the radical proposals
Radrizzani proposed creating Premier League 2 and also led Championship breakaway talks
In addition, he was a leading figure in the secret talks held by Championship clubs about a breakaway two years ago, which led to 15 of them writing a letter to the EFL board threatening to go it alone if the competition’s television contract was not renegotiated.
Radrizzani was the first Premier League owner to criticise Project Big Picture. ‘What happened is a disgrace, and for many reasons,’ he told The Times.
Karren Brady and Steve Parish, of West Ham and Crystal Palace respectively, offered more measured criticisms of the plans this weekend.