John Henry and Ed Woodward’s messages in plot to revolutionise English football

Details on just how closely John W Henry and Ed Woodward worked together on Project Big Picture have been revealed.

Henry, who is one of the men behind Liverpool ’s owner Fenway Sports Group, and Manchester United 's outgoing CEO Woodward were two of the men in favour of the European Super League plans, which were released on April 18, only for the six English clubs involved to perform a dramatic U-turn two days later.

Both clubs have since apologised but it was not the first time both men have worked on plans to revolutionise English football.

Henry and Woodward were the driving force behind Project Big Picture, which was released in October and received widespread condemnation from most involved with English football, although it was backed by the EFL chairman Rick Parry.

Project Big Picture would have seen the bigger clubs receive greater control over the running of the Premier League in return for redistributing increased funding down the football pyramid.

It would have seen EFL clubs receive 25 per cent of the money from future TV deals but also had a number of other controversial proposals, such as the Premier League reducing to 18 teams and the nine longest-serving top-flight clubs having a preferential vote.

The plans were leaked to the Daily Telegraph despite 14 of the 20 top-flight clubs not being aware of the plans up until that point.

The Premier League released a statement at the time claiming ‘a number of the individual proposals in the plan published today could have a damaging impact on the whole game’ and – like the European Super League – it was quickly rejected by the clubs involved.

The extent to which Henry and Woodward, who is standing down as United's CEO at the end of the year, worked together was explained in an article by The Athletic.


The publication explained: “Henry has considered republishing Project Big Picture, even proposing that it might be a good thing if he gave up some of the controls he would have gained had the original plan been successful. Though chairmen and owners from the EFL were prepared to discuss this with him, his attention soon lapsed.

“It is telling that Ed Woodward was able to work so closely with Henry over Project Big Picture. Woodward would sometimes send Henry WhatsApp messages in the morning with amendments to the plan. Henry would then regularly call him back almost straight away despite the unearthly hour in Boston.

“He did not use his secretary, writing the whole thing himself, and Woodward formed the impression that because he’d spent so much time on it, working on it non-stop, others would value his ideas as much as him.”

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