FOOTBALL is a game played all around the world.

With due respect to all the other countries, ours was always the one that impressed everyone with what we call the pyramid of four top divisions, followed by hundreds of other minor league clubs.

I was not just surprised but a little shocked recently when two of our biggest and most loved clubs all around the world, Manchester United and Liverpool, came out with the proposition called Project Big Picture.

This, generally speaking, would’ve meant changing the shape of the pyramid. Both those clubs and some others who they needed support from to cash in, even though they were prepared to pass on millions to the lower divisions, it really just looked like a cover up for what would over the years prove to be a smaller group, earning more and preventing a lot of the lower clubs from joining the top of the pyramid.

Thankfully when the 20 Premier League clubs had an emergency meeting in the last few days, even United and Liverpool had realised since it was leaked the previous weekend, their plans, which must’ve been made up over a long period, some say since 2017, had to be put in the bin. Well done.

I’ve always had a lot of time for both United and Liverpool for various reasons, but I can only think since buyers came into our football it started to change things.

With due respect to the two gentlemen (John Henry and Joel Glazer) and their families, they are businessmen and apparently billionaires from America. That is completely different to the old boards of directors that we had in the early days, who were very similar to those I spoke about with great respect and that we had at Southampton. They were usually local businessmen who represented the man on the terrace. Never took any money out and if needs be at any time would put their money in.

Points that were brought up such as reducing the number of clubs in the Premier League, I couldn’t understand as we’ve already done that since things started. At one time we had 22 originally, then brought it down to 20 and then to bring it down to 18 made it look like in a few years’ time they would be coming down to where there was only the ‘big six’ and three or four others, who would be licking their boots.

Interesting incidentally to see the few clubs that were mentioned to give some opposition on the pitch to the big six included Southampton. It was interesting to notice that some of the clubs when asked said no comment, whereas the ones who are presently at the bottom of the league and would certainly have no chance of being part of the big group such as Brighton, West Brom, Leeds United, Burnley, Sheffield United, Fulham and Crystal Palace were totally against everything.

Incidentally, how do the supporters and everyone at Everton feel, noticing that they aren’t included in the ‘big six’. While Liverpool are obviously the reigning champions, Everton at present, along with unbeaten Aston Villa, are top of the league. It’s a pity therefore that today, one of the biggest derby matches in the world is being played with no crowd at Goodison Park. It’s always a fantastic atmosphere there.

It would’ve been terrific to hear some of the chants and singing. We will of course be able to watch the game. I’m not sure if the people who turn the crowd noise on will be able to make up the sort of chants or messages coming over from the Goodison end, particularly if they come out winning on the day.

Whilst I would normally not be too bothered which team won, I think a lot of people will join me in hoping that Everton on the day get one over their neighbours, who don’t include them in the ‘big six’.

But so be it, the new plans have been put hopefully in the bin, not on the back burner and we can carry on with the best set-up in the world of football and seeing that Everton are our next visitors at St Mary’s, let’s hope we come up with a home win, because I don’t want them to win in their next away game.

For some reason, the internationals being played at this time of the year, three in all for most countries, it didn’t seem to take as much attention as England games normally would. Obviously the absence of a crowd didn’t help.

On the one hand Gareth Southgate will be delighted to beat Belgium, who are current number one in the world, but will certainly not be happy with two sendings off and a defeat in his last game against Denmark.

That is always the problem at international level, it is nothing he can put right in the next week or two compared to a club manager, because his next game is not until November.

As far as Harry Maguire is concerned, he really will be looking for a better new year than he’s had in the current one, on and off the field, considering that even in this week’s game he was sent off.