Mon. Mar 4th, 2024

The Premier League is to convene another meeting of English football’s top-flight clubs within a fortnight as it scrambles to gain approval for a landmark financial distribution agreement with its lower league counterparts.

Sky News has learnt that the Premier League has scheduled a summit with its ‘shareholders’ on 12 December to discuss progress towards a ‘New Deal’ for English football after a meeting last week ended without a resolution.

Sources said that the 12 December gathering would discuss the potential funding of the new deal, which could be worth more than £900m to English Football League (EFL) clubs over a six-year period.

Revised rules on player amortisation which govern the accounting treatment of transfer fees and wages, and a potential funding deal for women’s professional football will also be on the agenda, the sources added.

Changes to associated party transaction (APT) rules, which were vetoed at last week’s meeting and which would prevent player loans between associated clubs in different leagues, have, however, been excluded from a circular sent to the 20 top-flight clubs, however.

The scheduling of the meeting underlines growing pressure on the Premier League board to reconcile emerging fractures on critical issues of financial and sporting integrity.

A number of club executives are said to have become increasingly alarmed about the approach to tackling differences on the APT reforms and other issues.

They are also said to have expressed deep misgivings over the negotiation of the New Deal with the EFL, with some outside the ‘big six’ – comprising Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – warning that the settlement could cause serious financial damage to them.

At least one club in the league’s bottom half is understood to have raised the prospect of having to borrow money this year to fund its prospective share of the handout to the EFL.

“The League is facing a crisis of confidence right now,” said an executive at the club.

Last week’s meeting saw a resolution on related-party loans defeated by 12 votes to eight, with those refusing to support it including Chelsea, Everton and Manchester City – three clubs which have been facing allegations over financial rule breaches.

Everton were deducted ten points earlier this month by an independent commission, leaving the Toffees in the relegation zone.

Richard Masters, the Premier League chief executive, has talked since the summer about reaching a swift resolution to the New Deal, and had hoped to put it to a formal vote last week.

However, the prospect of an agreement appears to remain elusive, even as the government progresses preparations for the establishment of an independent football regulator.

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The proposal for a bespoke licensing regime floated by the government has created distinct unease among a number of Premier League clubs, some of which believe that the New Deal should remain unsigned until there is greater clarity about how the regulator will operate.

Executives have expressed disquiet over the absence of conditions attached to the funding, while also pointing to the absence of an internal agreement about how the financing would be split between the 20 clubs.

Under a blueprint outlined to Premier League clubs during the autumn and revealed by Sky News, the New Deal would run for six years, commencing immediately with an £88m handout to the English Football League (EFL) in the first year, rising to £190m in the 2028-29 season, the final 12 months of the period, .

The seasons in between would see payments of £101m, £174m, £178m and £184m.

The funding for lower-league clubs would be in addition to existing annual solidarity payments of £110m and further funds earmarked for youth development.

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In June, MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee said the Premier League and EFL should urgently reach agreement on the provision of funding throughout the English football pyramid, or have a settlement imposed on them by the new regulator.

“Unless the football authorities get their act together soon on agreeing a fairer share of revenue, we risk more clubs collapsing, with the devastating impact that can have on local communities,” Dame Caroline Dinenage, the committee chair, said.

In a white paper published earlier this year, the government said: “The current distribution of revenue is not sufficient, contributing to problems of financial unsustainability and having a destabilising effect on the football pyramid.

The document highlighted a £4bn chasm between the combined revenues of Premier League clubs and those of Championship clubs in the 2020-21 season.

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The impetus for a new regulator has gathered pace since the Conservative Party’s 2019 general election manifesto, with Rishi Sunak pledging to continue reforms set in motion under Boris Johnson.

“The current situation risks damaging the Premier League, and that cannot happen without risking the entire football pyramid,” one industry source said.

The Premier League declined to comment on Tuesday.

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