Michael 84

The Premier League Without The Big 6 – This Is What It Would Look Like

Saturday, 17th October, 2020

The Premier League Without The Big 6 - This Is What It Would Look Like

There’s been a lot of talk about the Premier League and how it is structured over the past week or so. Most notably something that was cooked up by people representing only 2 clubs, Manchester United & Liverpool which was dubbed “Project Big Picture“.

This would have given more powers and control to the so called big 6 clubs (currently seen as Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea), cutting the league to 18 teams and a few other things.

The sweetener in this deal would have seen some money filter through the leagues.

It came after the news that some Premier League games would be Pay Per View, which angered many people.

This has already been covered a lot in the news, so you can read more about it here and here if you want a deep dive. Thankfully nobody wanted this to happen, including the Premier League itself. The teams in the league also rejected this.

I thought it would be fun to see what would happen if there was a Premier League without the big 6. If there’s a break-a-way then why not go it alone.

This is all in fun of course, but I had to try it out.

There’s only one way to do that: Football Manager simulation! I used the latest FM20 for this funny experiment.

So I removed all of the top 6 clubs from the league, and replaced them with other teams. Since FM20 is based on the 2019-20 season, it still has Watford, Bournemouth and Norwich in the league.

I added the newly promoted teams for this season, Leeds, WBA and Fulham. For the remaining 3 places I chose the last 3 teams to be in the Premier League who weren’t already in this new league.

These were Cardiff, Swansea and Huddersfield.

If you’re wondering what happened to the big 6, I put them in League 2. Basically consecutively relegating them from each division, with promoting teams that went up in real life.

Season 1 (2019-20)

This is how the new Premier League lines up without the big 6. This is also how League 2 looks with the big 6 in there.

Start Of The Season

This experiment is how the Premier League would fair without the top 6, and not how they would fair in the lower leagues.

But I know that you’ll want to know how the big boys are getting on, so I will also include that progress.

Here’s how it looked at the halfway stage on Boxing Day.

Halfway through the first season without the top 6

Everton top the league by 4 points, not too much of a shock. I would have thought Leicester and Wolves would have been challenging them, but it was surprisingly Sheffield United, Brighton and Southampton who are up there.

No surprises in League 2 when it comes to who the top 6 are, but the results were kind of surprising.

You may have thought there’s be 5, 6, or 7 nil victories in most games. This didn’t happen. There have been some big scores as you’d expect, but not as many as you’d think.

Arsenal fixtures and results halfway through season 1 in League 2

There’s also been a few shocks, including Arsenal losing to Crawley 2-0.

Anyway, back to the real story, the Premier League without the top 6.

4 Games To Go In Season 1 Without The Big 6

We pick it up with only 4 games to go in the league.

As you can see, Everton are top, and poor Cardiff are already relegated. Cardiff are quite a distance behind, as are Huddersfield, with Leeds 5 points behind a large pack.

At the top it’s quite close. There’s only 3 points between 1st and 5th. That’s something we’ve never seen in the Premier League, probably any league, ever at this stage. Wolves lie in 7th, only 7 points behind.

Bournemouth Are The Champions Of The Inaugural Premier League Without The Top 6!

Bournemouth Win The First Premier League Without The Top 6

That’s right! It was Bournemouth who won the first ever Premier League without the top 6. Somehow Leeds managed to save themselves, and it was Swansea who would get relegated with Huddersfield and Cardiff.

Everton finish in 2nd, with Sheff Utd 3rd and Brighton rounding out the top 4 for the Champions League places.

One thing is for sure, removing the top 6 did not help Newcastle, who finished 11th place. This is around average you’d expect Newcastle to finish, perhaps 2 or 3 places higher. Leicester, Southampton and Wolves finish the top 7.

I’d have expected both Leicester and Wolves to do a lot better.

The highest team which I promoted were another surprise, Fulham who finished 9th. Higher than the likes of Newcastle, Watford, Palace, Villa and Burnley who were all in the Premier League in 2019-20.

This is the league table in full.

Final Premier League Table Without Top 6

What I think is the most surprising about this is the number of defeats.

Bournemouth won the league with 11 defeats. Every team with the exception of Brighton loses were in double figures.

I know you must be wondering what happened in League 2. Here you are…

Liverpool Win League 2

Not much of a shock, Liverpool win league 2. All top 6 clubs record over 100 points, each scoring over 100 goals.

But there’s only 4 teams which can achieve promotion, which means 2 of the big 6 have to play yet another season in League 2…

Chelsea and Arsenal both lose out, with Liverpool, Man City, Tottenham and Man Utd gaining promotion to League 1.

And there you have it, that’s how the Premier League would shake up after 1 season without the big 6.

Season 2 (2020-21)

Why not keep the game running?! I couldn’t stop now, so I had to continue and do season 2. The focus is still on the Premier League without the big 6, but there’s still an eye on those clubs.

Now they’re in 2 different leagues, so I’ll showcase all 3 divisions to see how things are coming along in season 2.

Season 2 Halfway Stage Without Big 6

At the halfway stage of Season 2, Boxing Day. It’s Everton who take the lead at the top of the Premier League.

Defending champions Bournemouth are 6 points behind, with Leicester and Wolves in between them.

League 1 is as you’d expect, 4 from the big 6 are the top 4, with Liverpool winning 20/20 games. Still in League 2 are Arsenal and Chelsea, who are sure to get promoted.

Bournemouth Win The League Again!

Bournemouth Win Their 2nd Premier League

Just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, Bournemouth go and win the Premier League for a 2nd time! They pip Everton to the title by 2 points, with Leicester and Wolves only 3 points behind the title winners.

How exciting does this league table look!? Judging by the goal difference, games were quite close.

My team Newcastle done even worse, finishing 16th! That’s behind Reading, who were promoted in season 1’s Championship.

I guess you’re wondering how the so called big 6 done in their leagues. So here it is:

League 1 and 2 with the big 6 - Season 2

Arsenal and Chelsea finally made it out of League 2. They were joined by Lincoln.

League 1 is where it get’s a bit more interesting. Only 3 out of the 4 can get promoted, so someone will miss out…

As you can see it was Man Utd who missed out! Man City won the playoff final against Man Utd 4-0 and booked their place in the Championship along with Liverpool and League winners Tottenham.

Season 3 (2021-22)

We’ll pick up season 3 at the half way stage on Boxing day again.

If you’re lost, Bournemouth have won 2 Premier League titles, we have Tottenham, Liverpool and Man City now in the Championship, and Man Utd, Arsenal and Chelsea are in League 1.

Season 3 half way through the season

Wolves are top of the Premier League on boxing day!

Norwich and Everton are only 1 point behind, and newcomers Nottingham Forrest are bottom of the league.

Double champions Bournemouth are lying in 5th place, 8 points behind. Above them are Southampton who sit 4th.

The Championship and League 1 have no surprises, with the big 6 occupying the top 3 places in their respective leagues.

Wolves Win The League!

Wolves win their first Premier League

Wolves hang on to their lead from boxing day and win the Premier League for the first time. It was a close race, with Everton only 1 point behind. The other teams were some way off, with last season’s champions Bournemouth coming in a distant 3rd.

A 2 horse race makes this a Premier League we’re more used to seeing.

Nottingham Forrest managed to pull themselves out of the drop zone, and it’s Cardiff, Leeds and Reading who go down.

My team Newcastle are still no good, only manging to finish 10th, with Brentford finishing above them.

Do you care about looking at the Championship and League 1? The big 6 went up, but here you go if you’re interested.

Season 3 - Championship and League 1

The big 6 all went up, and all got over 100 points. No big surprise. Man Utd won 45/46 games, drawing 1, which I’ve got to say is impressive.

Season 4 will see Man City, Tottenham and Liverpool all back to the big time of the Premier League.

Will 3 seasons outside the top flight have affected them?

Season 4 (2022-23)

Here’s how the tables look in season 4, with 3 of the big 6 back in the big time.

Season 4 - Halfway stage tables

Defending champions Wolves are having a hard time, down in 11th place. Everton sit top, but Tottenham have a game in hand and are 3 points behind. Man City are 3rd, also having played a game less.

Liverpool are a dire 10th, however have 2 games in hand.

Former 2 time champions Bournemouth are in 5th place. At the bottom of the table sits Sheff Utd, Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forrest.

In the Championship it’s as you’d expect, with the final 3 of the big 6 looking like they’ll be going up, all in the top 3 positions.

Manchester City Win The League!

Man City win premier league in season 4

After back to back promotions and their first season back in the Premier League, Man City win the Premier League. They finished 10 points clear of their fellow big 6 club Tottenham, who came in 2nd.

However Liverpool could not follow suit, finishing 4th. Everton fans will be happy to see their team finishing above Liverpool, a massive 10 points ahead!

Previous season champions Wolves finished a lowly 12th, behind even Newcastle! Former champions Bournemouth came in 6th. Brentford, Watford and Sheff Utd all face relegation.

As for the Championship…

Season 4 Championship Man Utd win

Man Utd win the Championship, with Arsenal 2nd, both on over 100 points. Chelsea didn’t manage to break into the 3 figures, only getting 98 points but were promoted via the playoffs.

Chelsea actually only just got into the Premier League, beating Blackburn in the playoffs 3-2 After Extra Time.

Season 5 (2023-24)

So we’re into season 5. Here’s how the league looks…Does it look familiar?

Season 5 Day 1

That’s right, all 6 of the big 6 clubs are back. They came back in the shortest time possible, with all of them being promoted every chance they had. The only time any teams weren’t promoted were when there wasn’t enough spaces.

This isn’t a surprise.

To round out this little experiment, I had to see how this season would finish off. It would be the final season of this challenge or experiment.

Would the big 6 finish in the top 6?

After 23 games this is how the league looked.

Season 5 after 23 games. How are the big 6 doing

And there you have it, the top 5 clubs are from the big 6. Man City sit at the top of the pile, with Tottenham in 2nd. Liverpool, Man Utd and Arsenal make up the top 5.

The big shock is obviously Chelsea. For some reason, they lie in 16th place in the league.

Can they turn it around?

Man City Win The League Again!

Man City Win The League In Season 5

Man City retain their Premier League title, winning the league by a margin again. They got 95 points, 16 points clear of 2nd placed Tottenham.

Liverpool came in 3rd, Man Utd 4th and Arsenal 5th. The top 4 were some way in front of the rest.

Chelsea climbed the table to 10th, but still not as high as you’d expect.

The relegation fight looked good, with 3 teams on 33 points, only 3 points separating 20th and 17th.

And that’s where we’ll leave the league tables.


This was all about seeing how the Premier League would look without the so called big 6. I think it was fun to see, which saw quite a variety of who done well.

Obviously it was all in fun, and I enjoy watching the big 6 play as much as anyone else.

The Other Competitions: FA Cup, Champions League etc.

You may be wondering, what about the other competitions? There’s the FA Cup and the Champions League.

This is the history of the F.A. Cup for all 5 seasons.

FA Cups without the big 6

The FA Cup participation didn’t stop the big 6 winnings. Tottenham won the first season from League 2, and a big 6 club won every other season.

That was until season 5, where Wolves won. This was the season where all big 6 were back in the top flight. That’s kind of interesting.

Another interesting thing to note is that the losing finalist in the first 4 finals were teams outside the big 6.

League Cup without the big 6

The Premier League might be without the top 6, but they can play in the league cup, and they do.

The league cup was shared by Liverpool and Man City, both winning the cup each season. Man City got 3 wins, Liverpool 2.

Champions League without big 6

Man City may have been in League 2, but that didn’t stop them winning the Champions League! Quite an achievement to play 46 games in the league as well as the cups, and then to go and win the Champions League too!

Wolves managed to get to a final, but lost to Bayern Munich.

Europa League without big 6

English teams done well in the Europa League. Everton won in season 2, with Liverpool winning season 3 and Man City winning it in season 4.

It seems you can take them out of the Premier League for a few seasons, but they’re still brilliant teams!

Transfers Without The Big 6 In The Premier League

Another thing I wondered about was transfers. Usually you’d see the big 6 attracting players from all over the globe. There’d be huge signings for all of the clubs, with big money being spent.

So, what happens with transfers when the big 6 start in league 2?

Transfers without the big 6 season 1 pt1

What I found was that the big 6 basically were buying players from each other. Effectively swapping players with each other.

The big 6 still have the money, but getting the top players from abroad to agree to come and play in League 2 must have been too hard.

Getting big players from each other seemed to be the way to go. Firminho went from League 2 Liverpool to League 2 Man City, for a cool £94m.

James Maddison was a bit of a shock, swapping Premier League Leicester for Man City, who were promoted to League 1 by the time the transfer went through.

The “swapping” also saw Bergwijn go from Tottenham to Man Utd, Phil Foden from Man City to Tottenham, Emerson from Chelsea to Man Utd, Tomori from Chelsea to Man City, Tammy Abraham from Chelsea to Man Utd and a whole load more.

Brighton saw the biggest transfer, getting Gabriel Jesus from League 2 Man City for £49.5M. It was the biggest transfer which would see the other “non-big 6” clubs buying some players from them.

In 2021 there were a few more interesting transfers to look at.

Transfers in 2021 without the big 6

Tomori found himself at another club, moving from Man City to Tottenham. Kovacic went from Chelsea to Man City, and Everton were able to take Martial from Man Utd. Man Utd also lost Marcus Rashford to Wolves.

Joe Gomez went from Liverpool to Tottenham, With Dele Alli going in the opposite direction.

As you can see, Man City were once again huge spenders, bringing in lots of highly priced players.

2022 Transfers without the big 6

Phil Foden moved on in 2022 from Tottenham to Man Utd, with James Madison moving from Tottenham to Man City. Mason Greenwood goes from Man Utd to Chelsea, Keita from Liverpool to Man City and Trevoh Chalobah from Tottenham to Man City.

With some of the big 6 in the Premier League in 2023, we sort of seen the transfers go to something like normal. The big 6 kind of stopped buying from each other, and these were the transfers which happened in 2023.

2023 Transfers without the big 6

The biggest transfer of the year was Leroy Sane who found himself in the Premier League again, joining Tottenham for 105m from Bayern Munich. Barcelona made the most big money moves in 2023, but Man Utd did spend £82m on David Brooks from Bournemouth.

Another funny transfer to see was Burnley cashing in on Martinelli, getting £67M from Wolves.

Trasnfers without the big 6 2024

Man City were quiet in 2023, but made up for it in 2024. They spent £104M on Szoboszlai from West Ham, along with a couple of £40M+ players among others.

Arsenal brought in Choudhury and Barnes from Leicester for £34.5M each. This is the final season, and the transfer windows looked kind of ‘normal’, if there is such a thing in football anymore.

And there you have it! Finally at the end of this little experiment.

It was fun to see how everything played out, from the leagues to other competitions and the transfers around the players. Players actually left big 6 clubs for others, only to re-join a different big 6 club several times over the years.

UPDATE 19/4/21: The Super League announced with it’s 12 founding members.

Let me know if you’ve ran an FM challenge or experiment like this before.


*All these screenshots were from the Football Manager 2020 game by SEGA/Sports Interactive which I played and simulated for the purpose of commentary under “fair use/fair dealing”.

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Michael Adams

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Michael Adams is the founder and editor of Michael 84, blogger and T-shirt designer from Newcastle, UK. Sharing men's fashion tips, style advice and lifestyle information for all guys.

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