THE Prem's Big Six are braced for frustration and disappointment over their attempts to force radical change on the top flight.
Leading clubs now recognise there is no chance they can push through a reduction of the league from 20 teams to 18.
While proposed revamps of Uefa competitions promise more money from 2024, the Big Six fear they will hit a brick wall in their efforts to get the green light to make more cash from selling rights to their own games either overseas or on club channels.
And it sets up a further squabble between the Big Six and the rest of the Prem starting at tomorrow’s “shareholder” meeting of the 20 clubs.
Prem chief executive Richard Masters agreed to engage US-based Boston Consulting to carry out a "Strategic Review" of the structure of the League.
That was a direct response to the Project Big Picture proposals backed by Liverpool and Manchester United as well as EFL chairman Rick Parry.
Masters vowed that he would be open to all ideas, insisting in November that "the status quo is not an option".
Five months on, the Review will finally be a formal agenda item for the first time at Thursday's meeting, with clubs to debate the “next steps”.
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That will see smaller groups meeting together to argue their points.
But while Masters has met his self-set deadline of reporting back by the end of March, the Big Six believe nothing tangible will come from the process.
Instead, they expect many of their ideas will be blocked with any changes limited in scope.
One Big Six source explained: “We were hoping that the impact of Project Big Picture would see a real momentum in favour of significant measures.
“But it looks more likely that nothing will be proposed that the smaller 14 clubs would be upset about.
“Of course, we will have to see the final details and that will not come for a few months.
“What we have been led to believe, though, is that we will not have too much to be happy about.”
That would be victory for the less wealthy clubs, who were the most angry about Project Big Picture, branding the concept “unacceptable” and “insanity” and forcing United and Liverpool into a public U-turn.
Behind the scenes, though, the two north west giants, whose interests coincide with the other members of the Big Six who wanted fewer Prem games to create more room for European fixtures, hoped that Boston Consulting would deliver a victory.
Those hopes have dissipated over the past few months, with the mood of the change supporters darkening but suggests the big boys will have to accept a bitter defeat.
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