• Dan Tracey


While although the talk of a European Super League has dominated football as of late, the Premier League has its own important issues to deal with and for them, the most important issue is that of television rights.

Not necessarily who shows the product on sale, but how much broadcasting companies are prepared to pay for them and with the next round of domestic rights soon up for grabs, it is once again the pursuit of riches that the Premier League are concerned about.

While when it comes to concerns, the broadcasters have their own and for the trio of Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon, they will be crunching the numbers regarding the cost benefit of more Premier League matches on screen.

Of course, those numbers may not add up in a COVID-19 world and the last thing that any of the three companies want to be caught up in, is a tense and expensive bidding war with rival broadcasters.

A bidding war that usually comes in the shape of an auction which is held by the Premier League and it is the auction or the suggested removal of it, which will be music to the ears of Sky and their televisual counterparts.

Usually, the Premier League would put the rights out to the highest bidder and watch rival companies aim to gazump each other, with the overall winner being the 20 clubs who operate within English football’s top flight.

However, it seems as if there is no appetite for an auction this time around and the Premier League fear the scenario where they get less money for their rights, rather than a substantial increase that they usually receive.

Which means, the mooted solution is to simply rollover the current deal for the next contract cycle and each of the three current broadcasters pay the exact same amount of money than in the previous one.

A kind of halfway house between aiming to maximise value for the league and the current rights holders getting value for money. A deal that sounds like, it should be completed without any hitches and everyone wins. Well, not quite.

Because there is the small matter of anti-competition laws and by not putting the rights out to tender, it locks out the likes of Facebook, ITV, Netflix, and anyone else who may want to dip their toe in the world of Premier League rights.

However, the Premier League are confident that they can win over the UK government’s existing stance on anti-competitive practices, and they only need to point to football’s current landscape, as to reason a rights rollover makes sense.

Because although the rights bubble has not quite burst, there is a sense that the trio of existing broadcasters and any other outside rival do not have the desire or the budget to spend more than what has been spent before.

Therefore, the Premier League have been pragmatic enough to know that they should not push their luck and with television deals decreasing across the continent, the same again can be considered a rather substantial victory for those who oversee the top tier of the English game.

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