With news filtering through of a new Premier League television deal, thought to be about £5,1bn, and an extraordinary new contract deal for Liverpool and England’s rising star Raheem Sterling we could be forgiven for thinking that football and it’s finances are spiralling out of control.
The Premier League have just announced a huge television deal that will see them earn approximately £5.1bn between 2017-2019. This will be an increase of around 70% on the current deal that runs from 2014-2016. This deal will benefit each Premier League club greatly as 50% of the money will be split equally amongst the teams and even the relegated teams will earn around £60m.
Due to this, as well as additional money for final league positions and for televised games, clubs are able to compete with European giants such as Real Madrid and Barcelona in paying large transfer fees and negotiating eye-catching contracts.
Raheem Sterling, at just 20-years-of-age, looks set to be offered a deal in excess of £100,000-a-week which will make him one of the best paid players in the league. Without the Premier League negotiating their huge television deal contracts like this would not be possible and the likes of Sterling would be lost to an overseas club.
Supporters should not blame players for negotiating such lucrative contracts as they are being rewarded for their talents and are simply looking after their own interests in a career that can be very short-lived, especially at the very top of the game. They are simply agreeing deals at the current market value.
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Whilst as supporters we must thank the Premier League and Sky/BT for ultimately funding the most exciting and attractive league in the world there must come a point when this cannot carry on – or will there? An attractive brand means more investment which then attracts better players making the brand even more attractive. At present this vicious circle looks set to continue for some time yet and with no sign of stopping.
Supporters in England are certainly reaping the rewards of the huge amounts of money that the game attracts, because they see some of the best players in the world, but could the game go further by lowering ticket prices for those supporters who cannot afford to attend games?
Yes they can.
However, the demand at the top clubs for tickets are so huge that sell-out games are a norm as supporters are happy to pay the prices demanded of them. For most of the Premier League this is not an issue. However, clubs who do not attract sell-out attendances could look at reducing prices to attract more supporters, particularly in the Championship.
The other issue for top-flight clubs is the fact that they are no longer as reliant on match-day receipts as they previously used to be. Television money and commercial activities dwarf income from the turnstiles.
The men on the street
Football and its finances are certainly becoming far-removed from the ordinary man on the street but the game is becoming no less attractive to supporters. If we are not going to a match we will almost certainly be watching a game on television, funding the game in a different way.
Whilst it cannot be denied that the gap between the Premier League and the rest of the Football League is growing wider there is hope that television money will filter its way down to clubs in the lower reaches of English football and the grass-roots game.
The demand for football is greater than ever, of that there is no doubt, and, as a product, the Premier League has got it spot on and look as though they will continue to do so for some time yet. They could be accused of being greedy but without them the English club game would be much worse off.