By Tony Attwood
On Friday last week the bids for the future rights for football on TV were opened. And yet result and announcement was there none.
Partly this is because the old days of Lord Sugar are over. The story is that at the time of the first entry of Sky he telephoned Sky CEO Sam Chisholm and told him something about the bidding process that helped Sky knock ITV out of football domination That was naughty, although I’ve always said that his idea of setting some of the money aside each year for the benefit of football and the clubs (rather than having it all spent on higher salaries) was a very decent notion.
Sadly no one listened.
Anyway the chance has gone, and now the European competition authorities insisted the rights go to more than one bidder, and they audit the whole process.
Everywhere you turn in the industry someone knows some who is bidding. Discovery (of the US) has joined in. Or not. Discovery is owned by John Malone, and it now owns Eurosport. And of course there is Qatar. There is always Qatar. They own BeInSport, which seems to be everywhere at the moment. The bids (it is said) were all so close to each other that there has to be a second round. Or not. Sky is about to lose. Maybe.
The clubs are going to get 40% or more money next time around than this – taking the total revenue up to about £4,500,000,000 or maybe more. It’s hard to say with that many zeros. But try this for comparison. In 1990 the BBC and ITV paid £3,200,000 a year. That is a lot fewer zeros.
BT are bidding like crazy – not least because they have just decided to buy mobile company EE for £12.5bn, 13 years after selling their last mobile company O2 to Telefonica. Bit of a boob selling a company that you might want, but that is the industry for you.
At the moment Sky pay £2.3bn for 116 matches and BT £738m for 38 matches each season. The BBC have already announced that they will be paying £204m of our money to keep the highlights on Match of the Day (with its side line in promoting criminal acts against players that are too clever by half).
But even with these crazy numbers the Premier League still sits in second position behind the NFL in the US.
Watch Arsenal Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv
So as a result the clubs will get a lot more money, and there might well be more football on TV. Regular watchers of football matches in the ground (who the TV people desperately want because audiences switch off if they see empty stadia) will be once more treated with contempt, with matches moved to all sorts of odd times. Hey guys, there’s no live TV at midnight – lets do something about that.
So where will the money go? Ah, that’s the bit the media don’t like to focus on because it gets in the way of their “Arsenal is the most expensive club” campaign.
The answer is, in wages mostly. The beneficiaries are the players, and from thence, the gambling culture that some of them live in.
We already know we are going to have to work around games on a Friday night – 14 of them a season, and we are told they are arranged at different kick off times. Anyone thinking about how we get home from these games? I suspect not.
So 168 games on offer and the current thinking is that Sky will once again have 126 and BT the other 42. Unless that story about Discovery is true. Or Qatar.
BT Sport has already got the total and absolute Champions League and Europa League broadcasting rights from 2015/16 (that cost them £897m over three years). BT Sport also has the FA Cup rights. And all to do something about the collapse in landline income over the years. So now it also has broadband and mobile, plus two TV stations.
Thus we have seven packages, each bid for separately, with a maximum of 126 games for the top bidder. And who is there at the heart of all this money? A certain Mr Scudamore, he of the sexist emails fame. He’s probably there still sending out the appalling stuff, while watching the money role in. Woe betide any broadcaster that dares have a woman in the bidding team. Not a chance love.
And meanwhile, our elected representatives, the people given the duty of over seeing our society and its laws and rules, say nothing. Well not much. The opposition sports minister Clive Efford said that it all led to “a culture of greed” in football. And that’s about that.
So we wait to be told that we have to set off from our homes at 6am or 9pm or whatever to engage in our habit of watching the team we grew up with while the players get richer and richer, and then blow it all.
According to a study cited by Sports Illustrated in 2009, 78 percent of former NFL players are bankrupt or undergoing severe financial stress within two years of retirement from football, and 60 percent of former NBA players are bankrupt within five years of retirement. The numbers in football are almost certainly similar. We are simply funding the gambling industry.