Gap between Solidarity and Parachute Payments the big issue

Guardian Article

The Premier League has been accused of heavy-handedness with Football League clubs in the tortuous negotiations about how much of its forthcoming TV billions it will share with the rest of football. In a stormy Football League meeting at Walsall on Wednesday, some clubs accused the Premier League's chief executive, Richard Scudamore, of unjust interference with the Football League's freedom to run itself.

The row broke out over the Football League's proposals to close the financial gap in the Championship. With the Premier League's 2013-16 TV deals expected to reap £5.5bn, clubs relegated to the Championship will be paid substantially increased parachute payments to £59m over four years.

That vastly exceeds the money paid to other Championship clubs competing with them, from the league's own TV deal, which is £195m a year from 2012-15, just 3.5% of the Premier League's deal. Each championship club receives £2m a year from that Football League TV deal. Three years ago, the Premier League began to make a payment to the Football League in an attempt to narrow the gap slightly, so the clubs who do not receive parachute payments receive £2m in "solidarity".

Because parachute payments are due to go up by around 45% from the last deal, the Football League proposed two ways in which the financial gap with clubs in the championship might be eased. The first was that relegated Premier League clubs would no longer receive their £2m a year share of the Football League's own TV money, and instead that would be redistributed to the other clubs in the Championship. The second was a proposed salary cap, limiting spending on wages to £16m for relegated clubs in the first year, then reducing to £10m in 2014-15, and £8m in 2015-16.

Greg Clarke, the Football League chairman, had informed Scudamore of these proposals and asked for his view of them. At 9:30am, before the meeting was due to start at 11am, Scudamore emailed Clarke to say that if either proposal was implemented he would withdraw the current offer of "solidarity" money and review it – Scudamore was saying he would pull the money the Premier League pays to the Football League if the Championship clubs voted for the proposals.

Several clubs are understood to have objected to this, arguing that Scudamore was unduly interfering with their right to decide how to share money. A majority of clubs voted in favour of a motion that they would have passed the two proposals had Scudamore not threatened to withdraw the offer. However, as they faced losing the "solidarity" money, they withdrew the proposals.

The Football League declined to comment when asked about the meeting. A Premier League spokesman said of Scudamore's position: "A generous solidarity offer has been made to the Football League; however if the basis on which that original offer was made materially changes, then it is reasonable to review it."