It was recently suggested by someone that I might be someone who should support Rupert Murdoch in his quest to dominate the sports broadcasting world. This was extrapolated from the fact that I have sometimes offered my admiration for the way the Premier League and its clubs have fared in European and global terms by using the money given by Sky for the rights to show games.
I loathe the unending march of Sky towards buying every major sporting event so those of us who do not want to fill Murdoch’s vault are not able to watch but given the unfortunate fact that this seems to be the way of things at the moment my enthusiasm for the way the Premier League has used this money is certainly real.
The television money raised by the collective agreement with the league has been spread evenly across the Premiership clubs and used to support lower league teams as well. This is a markable improvement on the situation in particularly Spain where Real Madrid and Barcelona dominate the earnings from TV revenue.
Now UEFA president Michel Platini seems to wish to do that same on the European international front. There are plans to sell the broadcasting and marketing rights to internationals as a collective package along the same lines as the Premier League model and then distributed equally amongst all the different associations.
The top European nations are, as you may imagine, suspicious of this plan as it would more than likely see their respective incomes diminish in the short term.
Competitiveness seems to be the name of the game for Platini at present. As with his newly passed plans for financial regulation of clubs with them not being allowed to spend more than they earn, these new plans should narrow the gap between the bottom clubs and top clubs but this time on a grander scale.
Smaller nations will be able to invest more in their respective leagues and player development facilities, allowing them a better chance of competing with those nations which at present are more attractive for sponsors and broadcasters and are able to negotiate better deals because of it.
This should be good news for Scotland and the SPL who have endured a dramatic fall from grace over the last decade or so. With the inability to secure large television or sponsorship deals, the SFA, league and clubs have found financial stability rather difficult to maintain. Extra centralised funds from UEFA would surely be gratefully received.
A word of caution though. Although the Premier League has been better than most at redistributing the money received from Sky across all the teams in the league it has left a monopolistic broadcasting structure in place. Despite the British competition commission ruling that Sky Sports could not have sole rights to Premier League games leading to ESPN picking up some, games have not been shown on free-to-air television since the Premier League’s inception in 1992 with viewers having to shell out exorbitant fees to buy Sky Sports, pricing some people out of watching their clubs on the television.
In 1992 the old English First Division clubs walked out of the football league to form the new Premier League and selling their television rights to Sky as they felt they were not getting the best deal before with rights being sold for less than they were worth to ITV. The danger for UEFA is that the football associations of the larger European footballing nations might consider a similar coup if they felt that Platini’s proposed deal wasn’t in their interests. I hope it doesn’t come to that as this should be progressive concept that will help maintain the competitive future of the game across Europe.