Often Partisan

TV Rights and Wrongs

Money. It’s something that we all wish we had more of, and yet it’s something we all see as corrupting – be it politicians, bankers or football. I read this article interviewing the Liverpool chief exec, where he talks about the break up of international Premier League rights, and I thought it was a good subject to talk about – particularly bearing in mind Blues’ being an internationally owned company.

My first reaction to reading this was one of dismay. It’s possibly my tree-hugging leftist principles coming to the fore, but I don’t like the ideas of the “Big four” breaking away again, in a bid to corner even more money for themselves. The notion that they deserve more money because they’re bigger clubs sicken me – yes, they may have spending power but unless things have changed recently they have to play the other sixteen clubs in the Premiership to actually have it constitute a league – and without those other sixteen clubs they’d be just a farcical exhibition of football.

It also smacks of people wanting to perpetuate the status quo. On the pitch, Liverpool are on the slide; Manchester City have definitely overtaken them, Spurs are as good realistically and then you’ll have at least one or two from the remaining pack who get lucky and mount a challenge for the top six because of a standout player shining. Reduced success means reduced glory hunters, particularly abroad – and with Liverpool not winning a domestic league title in more than twenty years their star is waning somewhat. Thus it makes sense to them to ensure that their matches get broadcast wherever possible as much as possible to reinforce in the minds of people abroad that the red shirt of Liverpool is the one to buy – it’s not about support after all, it’s about merchandising sales.

As Blues aren’t even in the Premiership at the moment, it’s almost like we don’t exist in some circles. It’s quite sad that despite us playing (and winning) in European competition no-one in the national media actually seems to care about us – a case in point was the last photo round up from the Europa League in the Guardian had loads of pictures from every other English team but all there was for Blues was a close up of Chris Hughton which could have been taken at any game. Their report from the game was like most other newspapers – lifted direct from the Press Association. It appears that even though Blues are having a Cinderella like existence in the Europa League, no one cares if she goes to the ball or not and are happier concentrating on what the ugly sisters (Stoke and Spurs) are up to. The thought that if even if we got to the big leagues we could be ignored by everyone annoys me – is the Premier League really this much of a “product” now?

I guess what really peeves me is that the big teams are not even waiting for the current deal to expire; they want to break it now. Despite the Premier League getting over a billion a year for TV rights until 2013, the big teams have this sense that they’re entitled to more. I think there has come the realisation that broadcasters aren’t going to pay much more now for the PL, and thus the only way for teams to get more is to get a bigger slice of the pie. Domestically, last season Manchester United earned twice what Blackpool did for the TV rights; however internationally everyone got the same (around £17mil). If the international rights get the same slant as they do domestically, will anyone ever be able to catch the big four without a billionaire to help them? It seems that the top clubs are firmly intent on confirming this oligopoly at the top – they have their elite little club and bollocks to anyone who wants to challenge them unless they can wave a few hundred million quid at the team.

Money is what makes the world go round, and as much as I don’t like that, it’s a fact of life. Money enables football clubs to bring in the best players that they can and to take their team to the highest level possible. However, it increasingly seems that it’s not just about money to improve teams – it’s about money for the sake of it, the bottom line ruling. Football is increasingly becoming a commodity to be bought and sold by people with serious amounts of cash, a way of taking money from the common man and lining the pockets of the people who already have plenty with even more. The sad thing is, there is no way that’s going to change because the number of people who watch games on TV vastly outstrips the proper fans on the terraces. Television rules, and without a complete breakdown in football finances, it will continue to do so for a long time.

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15 Responses to “TV Rights and Wrongs”

  • prewarblue says:

    Hear Hear,,,,,,,Total agreement with these sentiments

  • BlueB says:

    Fans on the terraces may well be outnumber by those at home. But when they stop going and stadiums are potentially half full then the TV glamour will die with it.

    This is just extending the bubble football lives in for a few more years until the inevitable collapse that I believe will come. If I were a fan of big or 6 this would worry me. It would make the league less competitive and to see my team potentially outclass teams week in week out would surely come to be as monotonous as watching blues pnd most lower half teams plan and struggle to keep above 17th in the prem with little thought as to the entertainment for the vans viewing.

    It has been inevitable for some time that a European league will form at some point. The structure and containing organisation may not yet exist but I believe it will come and whilst I do not welcome it, I do believe it will start the rebirth of competitive entertaining football for the majority of fans. Just unfortunate that it may have to get far worse before it gets better!

  • Mortonsblue says:

    Completely agree Almajir!

    That’s why our Europa games are on ESPN Classic, Spurs on Ch5 with Stoke and Fulham on ITV. Thats why the WHU Boxing Day game has been moved to 5.30pm meaning me and my family can’t go due to travelling back to other parts of the UK, TV has more power than the Police.

    Brian Robson said in the recent undercover documentary about buying and selling football clubs ‘It’s not football its a business’ never a truer word I’m afraid.

  • Bombay Blue says:

    Let the big 4 have their own TV rights and the rest of the PL teams form a new league. A European league will not work (Champions league format was the forerunner) and it is clear there is little interest outside of the knock out stage. If a European League was successful why worry. Outside of the big 4 no other team will win the premier league in the foreseeable future so good riddance if they do go. A more balance approach to UK football may ensue. KRO

  • Bazzathebluenose says:

    Another very thoughtful and well presented article but you miss one fundamental point and that is that WE, the fans are part of the problem. All the time that we continue to pay over the odds for tickets to attend games, subscribe to SKY, Virgin, ESPN and other providers, buy cheap to produce shirts with our beloved teams’ logos on at ludicrously high prices and continue to buy a load of other old tatt from the club shops, football will continue to place its greedy snout in the trough. The top clubs just happen to be the biggest pigs and of course they have a vested interest in keeping things exactly as they are to prevent healthy competition and a proper sense of sporting challenge. Liverpool have as you rightly summise an inflated view of their own importance and this latest move is an attempt to drag the top clubs out of our domestic competition into a pan European League leaving the rest of us to take part in a glorified Sunday afternoon pub team competition. The end game of this scenario can be viewed already; one only has to look north of the border. The other difficulty with the oligarchy ruling football in this day and age is that it has encouraged breathtaking greed among the top players who demand unrealistic remuneration that is bankrupting traditional, famous clubs. Make no mistake, sooner or later a big name will go to the wall and others will follow once it has happened. The financial landscape of football is wholly unsustainable and hell is a coming.

  • chris says:

    One reason I only go to about 10 games a year.
    I want to support my club, but I am pulled in another direction by my feelings against greed, selfishness, cartels and monopolies.
    I wish I could just leave football altogether but it’s a drug and pulls you back when you try and give it up.
    Though the prem league and the greedy cronies running it and the FA and even the biased press, especially the BBC are trying their hardest to stop my addiction.
    Football is still carrying on its orgy of greed with no abatement and in two or three years I can see me giving it up for good.
    In the daily mail today we see the scourge of agents corrupting and inducing school kids, when will it stop?
    The government needs to step in because this greedy scum running OUR game is ruining a national institution.
    I don’t have neither Sky nor ESPN and only wish more footy fans would get rid of it, if only for one season as a protest.

  • dixie222 says:

    As a liverpool fan I do feel that liverpool and man utd should get more money! Smaller clubs generate more money by playing these big clubs as there ticket allocation normally consists of A, B & C grade ticket prices. you can bet your life that when your playing liverpool & man utd the ticket price costs and extra £12. Where when liverpool or Man utd play these smaller clubs the ticket price comes down. This situation pleases the smaller clubs as they are generating more revenues off the back of bigger clubs but the bigger clubs are loosing revenue.

    • almajir says:

      Thing is, compared to Man U, Man City etc Liverpool are fast becoming a smaller club. To me it’s the last desperate throw of the device from a team on the slide.

    • Farina says:

      So, the rich get richer & the poor are aloud to be forever greatful for the ‘rich’ clubs to grace our stadium for four or five games a season, dependent upon who are classed as the ‘top clubs’? Basically, you have no idea of what it is like to be a normal football club supporter. Do you know what it is like to be relegated? Or win a major trophy when NO-ONE gives you a cat in hells chance of scoring, let alone winning. And dont state the CL win agsinst AC Milan either. You were not written off before the game, only at half time. It must be remembered that the vast majority of football supporters do not support the top 4/5 clubs. if they did, there would not he a premier league. I was brought up around the magnificent Liverpool sides of the 70’s and I am not anti-Liverpool by any stretch of the imagination, I just hate the biased views of many fans that think their club is far superior to another.

  • Oldbluenose says:

    Your article, unfortunately, Hits the truth of football today, I tend to agree with BlueB, that some sort of “european league ” will emerge some day,?. and among other comments, one wonders how we the Bluenoses would feel if WE had a fairy godfather, that propelled US up to the top reaches of the Premiere, would we then feel and act like Liverpool today,?????.

  • skareggae72 says:

    Look back to 1990 and that is where football changed,coming out of the so called`hooligan and unfashionable era-run down stadiums`.
    Englands success at the World Cup pushed that snowball forward,then came sky tv,formation of premier leage,mega rich owners,high profile celebrity players,people prepared to pay hundreds to see their team on tv or at a match.
    FIFA UEFA will probably put a stop to billionaires bankrolling clubs soon.

  • Bluesaremylife says:

    This is getting beyond a a joke!
    Talk about being hard up!

    http://www.bcfc.com/page/News/NewsDetail/0,,10412~2479540,00.html

    • Bluesaremylife says:

      50p! 50 bloody pence!!!!!! :-P

    • almajir says:

      Except…

      It was £2.10, and it’s Ticketmaster not BCFC that makes the charge. Blues have dropped all the charges to a minimum that Ticketmaster charge them, and don’t make any money on them.

      If you’re going to blame someone, blame Ticketmaster.

      • Mortonsblue says:

        That’s all well and good, but if you dont print at home and the tickets are mailed out it costs 50p so how do Ticketmaster gain from the online booking then? Is it a co-incidnce then that Blues have suddenly introduced a ‘Cup Game Admin Fee’ for the Brugge home tickets of …….£2.10..,never charged this on the Nacional or Braga tickets.Lets wait and see if they introduce an online booking fee for league games anytime soon.


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