Sky’s the Limit as BT join the party

Sky’s the Limit as BT join the party

By TomTom – Your SatNav around Football


In the midst of what has been one of the most entertaining starts to an international tournament in recent times, the Premiership has just sent out a loud reminder that it is undoubtedly the global juggernaut of the footballing world.

ESPN are the big losers as BT have joined Sky in the latest TV rights deal for the 3 seasons starting from 2013-2014. A bidding war between the ever present BSkyB, current holders ESPN and newcomers BT and al-Jazeera contributed to an escalated price but Premier League CEO, Richard Scudamore should ‘take a bow son’ nevertheless. The £3bn deal constitutes a 71% increase of £1.25bn from the current contract and happily means that the ESPN team of Robbie Savage, Steve Mcmanaman et al will have to hold their pitch side tea parties somewhere else. BSkyB have obtained rights to 116 games each season, whist BT will show 38 games a year. This means that each individual televised match is costing the broadcasters £6.6m, up from £4.7m in the current deal, or to put in to further context, from roughly £650,000 in the first Premiership season.

When considered in the wider economic context, the size of this deal becomes more startling. The Premiership has proven itself recession proof and such is the insatiable demand for football that clubs can continue to demand astronomical prices for tickets, whilst the league itself can demand extortionate amounts from broadcasters. However, surely the fans should feel some of the financial benefits of this latest deal. In an era in which loyalty is a scantily seen concept in football, with managers and players alike switching allegiances at the drop of a hat, surely the one group of people who should be rewarded are the fans, to whom their club of choice is for life and not just a short term fix.

Scudamore has suggested that each of the 20 Premiership clubs stand to make at least £14m extra each season as a result of the new deal. This added annual income has to mean a subsidisation of ticket prices, which are becoming less critical to clubs’ bank balances but more damaging to fans’ pockets.  In reality, gate receipts are becoming secondary to the money guaranteed from TV rights anyway.  It should also contribute to an increased presence in the community and importantly to an investment in youth development.

It is now inevitable that this increased financial security that clubs will experience will lead to a further inflation of salaries and transfer fees, provoking scepticism from many quarters. However, to my mind, this is fair enough. It is the players themselves who are drawing in global audiences and subsequently huge broadcaster fees. But isn’t it only right that the best league in the world should contain the best players? The reason for this mega deal is due to the entertainment factor of the league on a weekly basis. The dramatic climax to the season just past wouldn’t have been out of place in Hollywood but is the Premiership better in terms of calibre of player than it was when the current TV rights deal was secured?

You only have to look at the FifPro team of the year for 2011 to gain an insight into where the best players are plying their trade and a damning criticism on the quality on show in the Premiership. There wasn’t one English based player in the 11, with 8 of the team playing in La Liga. This compares to the 2009 team which contained 6 Premiership players, quite a dramatic swing in a short space of time.

Scudamore’s next tactic should be to persuade Mr Mancini to import a certain Lionel Messi to complete an Argentinian attacking triumvirate at Eastlands. Now that would get the broadcasters really scrambling.


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About TomTom
“Having studied English at university and always been a keen footballer and fan, combining the two has always appealed to me.” - Tom Lytton-Dickie. -"I'm a recently qualified journalist and I've worked in newspapers and broadcasting. I'm a dedicated follower of all sports primarily football, tennis and cricket." Tom Allnutt

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