Government urged to seek more help for lower leagues in return for TV approval

The Premier League is reportedly poised to roll over its existing UK television deal
The Premier League is reportedly poised to roll over its existing UK television deal (PA Archive)
11:08am, Wed 28 Apr 2021
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The Government should demand greater help for the football pyramid as a condition of approving the Premier League’s new domestic broadcasting deal, the chair of a key parliamentary committee has said.

The English top flight is reported to be poised to roll over its existing agreements with Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon Prime Video for a further two or three years.

It is thought that such a deal would require Government approval because it would not be an open auction, and Julian Knight, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, says that leverage should be used to force the league to share even more of the cash with the EFL and the rest of the pyramid than it does currently.

The Government could show an early sign of its will by making the price of approval (of the new deal) greater help for struggling lower league clubs.

He said in a statement released to the PA news agency: “As the farce of the European Super League has shown, the power and financial imbalances in English football have never been greater.

“A key part of the Government review into football has got to be how we correct those imbalances and part of that has to be how money flows down the pyramid.

“The Government could show an early sign of its will by making the price of approval (of the new deal) greater help for struggling lower-league clubs.”

The Premier League currently makes payments of around £500million annually to the EFL and the rest of the football pyramid, including parachute payments, and a renewal of the deal on the same terms would enable it to maintain those commitments.

The Premier League has declined to comment on reports concerning a new deal, as have the broadcasters said to be involved.

The current deal, which it is reported will be rolled over, is worth an estimated £1.5billion a year. An open auction could lead to a fall in the value of the rights.

In addition to the existing solidarity arrangement, the Premier League also announced last December a further £50m to League One and Two clubs suffering financially due to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as providing help to Championship clubs with a loan facility.

The Premier League has also suffered significant losses itself due to the pandemic.

It was forced to give rebates to broadcasters due to the delayed conclusion to the 2019-20 season, and its chief executive Richard Masters estimated last month that the total cost of the pandemic to its clubs by the end of this season would be close to £2bn.

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