Premier League agree to renew television deal with broadcasters for another three years
By Craig Humpage
Published on Thursday 13 May 2021
After successfully receiving government approval, the Premier League has agreed to continue its existing TV rights deal with Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video and BBC Sport until 2025.
It has been widely received as a good move from the Premier League, the UK government and the broadcasters in question, which should have broadly positive effects on the clubs in the league, those lower down the pyramid and football fans.
Included in the new deal is a promise from BT Sport to move their Saturday lunchtime fixture to the evening to give a slightly longer break to teams competing in Europe in midweek.
What was the government's involvement in the process?
The UK government had to green light the deal as it technically goes against the Competition Act. Fortunately, lawmakers have granted the deal an "exclusion order" allowing it to bypass the open market tender process which some Premier League clubs felt could have caused a great drop in value at a time when clubs simply could not afford to take that hit.
The league said that "in light of the damaging impact of the Covid-19 pandemic throughout the English football pyramid, the Premier League was able to demonstrate to Government exceptional and compelling reasons for the Exclusion Order,"
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters expressed his gratitude at getting government approval for the deal: "We are hugely appreciative of the Government agreeing in principle to allow this arrangement and for their continued support for the Premier League and the English game"
Former Premier League Rights Executive David Kogan pointed out that the extent to which the government got involved in the process showed a "really marked difference in the way football's been run in the past".
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's The Today programme, he said: "This will buy the Premier League three years of some peace."
As people from all corners of the game call for more government intervention in football, to tackle issues like the European Super League, financial inequality, and fit and proper persons tests for owners, Downing Street's involvement in this issue will be seen as a step in the right direction.
The decreasing value of football TV rights
After years of inflating prices and gigantic broadcasting deals, the value of rights for domestic leagues in Europe seems to have hit a ceiling. It was bound to happen. That existing trend, paired with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, meant that many clubs feared for the worse ahead of this latest auction.
There has been widespread speculation about BT Sport possibly offloading their sports wing or at least some of their rights as they look to switch focus to their broadband services. Many in the industry feel the appetite for TV sports rights is on the decline, especially in the wake of the pandemic, and an open tender process may have caused a sharp decrease in value.
The current £4.7bn deal, agreed in 2018, already represented a 10% drop in value compared to previous ones and the league felt that a simple renewal of the existing figure would provide some much needed stability to clubs from the top to the bottom of the English football pyramid.
Chief Executive Richard Masters hails "Positive Impact" of deal
As well as bringing some financial guarantees to Premier League clubs, the league argue that this new television deal will also enable them to invest a further £100m of funding into the football pyramid as a whole over the next four years.
This money will be used to support clubs in EFL League One, EFL League Two, the National League system, the women's game and the Football Foundation. It can also be invested to tackle wide ranging issues like head injuries in football and discrimination.
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: "Covid-19 has had a significant impact on football, and renewals with our UK broadcast partners will reduce uncertainty, generate stability and promote confidence within the football pyramid,"
"We know that, once concluded, this will have a positive impact on the wider industry, jobs and tax revenues."
"The Premier League would like to express our gratitude to our broadcast partners for their continued commitment to the Premier League and support for the football pyramid."
Football Association Chief Executive Mark Bullingham also heaped praise on the deal, saying it will "help the pyramid get back on its feet."
Deal agreed amid speculation that BT Sport is looking to downsize
This news comes in the wake of weeks of speculation that BT Group PLC could be looking to sell its sports rights to online streaming platforms like Disney, Amazon or DAZN.
It is unclear as of yet whether or not BT will make changes in the coming months and years.
Read more about this here.
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