To others, though, it is a move designed to cement the status quo, proposed and pushed through at the behest of the Big Six. Since Leicester’s championship, they have “collectively flexed their muscles,” according to Rick Parry, a former chief executive at Liverpool and head of the Premier League. “It was a real wake-up call,” he said.
The changes to the revenue-sharing agreement are concrete proof of that unified approach. “The idea came about at a time when the elite teams were not doing so well in Europe, and they felt, in part, that was because the league was too competitive,” he said. In Parry’s eyes, then, it is not a mechanism by which to increase the level of competition, but to hamstring it.
“There is no perfect balance, and the pendulum is constantly swinging,” he said. “It can be beneficial if the top six are doing extremely well in Europe, but what you don’t want to do is dumb down the league.
“You can analyze it any which way, but the new agreement will have a negative impact on the smaller teams. To Manchester United, an extra £25 million is one agent’s fee for a transfer. For Brighton, it could be half a dozen players. It will make them, in comparison, much less competitive. Bridging the gap to the top six will be extraordinarily difficult.”
It is just how the Big Six executive wanted it as he sat in that hotel conference room, the Premier League’s greatest miracle shimmering on the horizon. An elite so strong that they break records as a matter of course, that they win almost every game, that they can never be caught. Three years later, his vision has been realized. Perhaps, in hindsight, this season will not seem quite so exceptional. Perhaps this is just the new normal, the Premier League as the Big Six want it to be, whether anyone else likes it or not.