Jurgen Klopp insisted concern for football was at the heart of the Project Big Picture proposals rejected by Premier League clubs this week.
The Liverpool boss is glad reform was discussed after the Reds and Manchester United led wide-ranging suggestions that were unanimously rejected, though a bailout for League One and League Two teams was agreed at a virtual meeting.
Changes to Premier League voting rights, a reduction of the top flight to 18 teams, the abolition of the EFL Cup and alterations to existing funding models for lower league clubs and the Football Association (FA) were all up for debate.
“It is really important we speak about it because I can’t remember the last time we did – the space for improvement in football,” Klopp said ahead of Liverpool’s derby with Everton on Saturday.
“A lot of times in life there must be a crisis to start talking. I’m happy people are talking. Yes, competitive [football is] positive, no one wants to change that.
“I am not really involved. I was informed. What I can say, all the people involved are concerned about football. If you want to understand the idea behind it, you listen, if you do not, you just knock it down.
“There are things to improve in football and that is what these people tried. The process keeps going and the people are talking and that is positive.”
— Premier League (@premierleague) October 15, 2020
The subject was also raised at a host of other managerial news conferences ahead of the weekend’s Premier League action.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: “It’s a definite that we, as one of the bigger clubs, have a responsibility to protect the football pyramid or smaller clubs.
“We have seen lately the impact this pandemic has had on many smaller clubs. For me, a key thing is that we want to get the fans back into the stadiums, which will help the other clubs.
“I’m very glad we’re looking into trying to help and the talks have started – let’s make the powers that be decide how we’re going to do that.”
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard also had their say on the topic.
“I want the best for football,” said Guardiola. “I didn’t listen to the hypothetical suggestions, I’m a big fan of the low categories, but honestly I don’t know what the situation is.
“I remember being with Barcelona and here in England arrived the Premier League. There was an incredible amount of criticism about the Premier League, that it wouldn’t be good and what was before should’ve stayed.
“And after look what happened with the Premier League, it’s now maybe the best league in the world.
“I just want the best for football, making the Premier League as strong as possible – now it’s not possible in this pandemic – but also for the low categories, because the old towns and little villages love their teams and that is the point.”
Lampard, who was asked if it is was a mess at the top of football, said: “I won’t use the word ‘mess’ but I think if you look across society and what COVID has done to the world, we’re all in difficult, difficult times, so I don’t want to be too critical of that.
“People are trying to find solutions all the time. With the actual football picture, I haven’t paid enough attention to give you details but Chelsea have remained – I think since the lockdown – [doing] some of the great work we did.
“We’re certainly intent on making sure we’re involved in conversations around protecting the football pyramid, and grassroots all the way up through the EFL and to the Premier League.
“We’ll be very involved in those conversations when needed, as we always are, and try to do the best.”
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