‘They’ve underestimated what football means for normal people’: Joe Cole admits he was angered by Project Big Picture as he hits out at Liverpool and Manchester United for ‘opportunistic power grab’
The groundbreaking proposals, which would have radically reshaped the face of English football, were rejected by by the Premier League and the FA – although the league’s biggest clubs are still committed to a future overhaul.
And Cole, who believes the plans were simply elite teams attempting to assert more influence over the pyramid, insisted that the meaning of the sport to the average supporter has been woefully ‘underestimated’.
Joe Cole shared his disgust with the controversial Project Big Picture plans rejected this month
Manchester United and Liverpool had led the effort to reshape the face of English football
He told BT Sport: ‘My initial reaction was anger. You have to separate Liverpool and Manchester United, who they are. what they are to the fans, to the business behind them.
‘Because the business behind them does what big businesses do, conserve their profit and make sure shareholders happy. They’ve seen an opportunity, football is in a bad place like the rest of society because of situation we’re going through.
‘They’re trying to make a power grab so they can conserve their asset. This is a long term plan for them, opportunistic.
United owner Joel Glazer (R) was also involved in what has widely been viewed as a power grab
‘What they’ve done wrong is underestimated what football means for the normal people.’
Despite the hugely contentious blueprint being turned down, it was confirmed that the Premier League are committed to a strategic review.
Sportsmail has previously reported that top flight chiefs are convinced United and Liverpool will use the threat of a breakaway European league as leverage to thrash out an agreement over a revised Project Big Picture.
Cole also believes that fans must push back against clubs forcing through the proposals out of fear that increased power among the elite clubs would crush the ‘dream’ for smaller sides down the pyramid.
John W Henry, Liverpool’s owner, was a driving force before the plans were promptly rejected
He added: ‘Grimsby supporters, Leyton Orient supporters, Exeter, anyone with a dream of playing football… if you let big businesses or millionaires to take over then you’re taking the dream away for fans up and down the country to get into the Premier League.
‘Or even Leicester what happened four years which was an amazing story. It’s made me angry. They’ve misjudged it.
‘It’s the people’s game. We need to stand strong. The FA need to be accountable, they need to protect football for everyone.’