Yet more money is about to pour into football. So what will happen?

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.

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.


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28 Replies to “Yet more money is about to pour into football. So what will happen?”

  1. Great article Tony, agree with everything here. However have you considered the possibility that PL chairmen and CEOs up and down the country are sitting down to their breakfasts and considering how they can cut the seat prices in advance of this potential windfall?


    me either

  2. Currently, we have three options – Sky, BT or both. I have Sky, but I won’t buy BT because their commentary is abysmal. (Although you can always turn the sound off)! Besides, why pay £15 a month for sometimes no return?

    If the above propasals are successful, we could end up with 4 channels – that is a lot of options. To buy all the packages in the hope that we might then have every Arsenal game covered seems unlikely. So somewhere, somebody (or sombodies) expect you to pay for nothing. “Hi give us 60 quid!” “What for?” “Nothing” “OK no problems here you go!”

    Perhaps one idea would be to sub-license games back to the clubs. So we would get every Arsenal home game on, say Arsenal TV! LIVE! That would be worth £15 quid a month – maybe more! Away games could be purchased en bloc from host clubs, thus covering non Emirates fixtures.

    Howver, however, or whoever hosts Live TV games, something has to be done about dirge commentators. Sorry, but th current bunch of scouse sky “pundits” and non people like Michael Owen, Robbie Savage and Phil Neville are just NOT worth paying for. How about somebody, Sky for example, develop “Interactive” sound where viewers can hear the crowd and the officials, but switch off the numbskull commentators.

    Who needs commentators anyway?

  3. Ledge
    ‘Who needs commentators anyway?’
    Couldn’t agree more. Hardly any have anything to say worth hearing. How many times do I have to be told ‘he really needs to be hitting the target’ when a shot goes astray, or ‘they need to score a goal if they want to win this game’ and other such nonsense. It’s pathetic.

  4. Ledge.

    Yeah; just turn the sound off and the TV off at half time and on the final whistle.

    Plus only turn on your TV a minute before the game starts.

    This is called enjoyment!!!!!!!!

    You can always watch ANY game for free on your computer.

  5. Are salaries not the most significant overhead of any business? Don’t the most successful businesses pay the largest salaries and offer the best incentives and packages to attract the best employees in order to see off the competition. The consumers then get not nescessarily the best, but the most desired product.

    It will come to the stage where each club or business, whatever way you want to put it, will negotiate their own package, as is the case currently in Spain.

  6. Without a doubt the best half time talk I have heard this year was Adrian Clarke and our Ladies full back, Alex Scott during one of the recent away games (I couldn’t find a stream on my computer) and was listening to the Arsenal Player radio commentary. Adrian (who presents the excellent Breakdown Show on Arsenal Player) is both knowledgable and a Gooner, Alex both knows her football and can talk about it intelligently and is also very good to look at.

  7. TheRegister has several articles about BT buying EE. Searching duckduckgo with
    – bt ee
    Picks off at least 11 articles which have both BT and EE in the title, and may shed some light on this purchase.

    One particular article is:

    – If BT gets EE, it will trigger EU treasure hunt for fixed lines

    The above is an opinion piece, musing about why. Capital expenditure mitigation is part of the reason.

  8. Mr.Crawshaw……you mean you watch these excellent pundits all the more to admire Ms.Scott’s personal qualities as well as her intellectual gifts! You should ask Septic Blatterfull, our erudite leader of FIFA, to require only attractive and comely ladies to be the public face of this disreputable organisation since he seems to appreciate their physical
    If the truth be told,I like her as well and admire Adrian clarke’s brillant commentary!!! she is also much easier on the eyes than he is.

  9. OMG,
    I thought they made an excellent pairing, both able to express their opinions far better than the usual suspects on the ‘more major’ sports channels and would happily watch both of them again.

  10. The betting adds before the games is staggering. Wonder if these influence the games in way.

  11. Those who criticise BT kindly have regard for Arsenal supporters in distant parts of our land from London, the sick, the lame, together with those in the near Continent. The only opportunity they have of watching their heroes was via Sky and now BT.
    The downside of poor commentaries is the least of their worries.

  12. Fucking Fergie Time! 1-1
    An abject disgrace – this deserves a look, Walter. After Atkinson yesterday, and AW’s remarks on said creature, please consider a bit of an analysis.

  13. @Andrew Crawshaw
    No doubt they will be king/queen pins or veterans in Arsenal Media, another branch of Arsenal, who now owns or searches to buy a media outlet in USA. I think i read somewhere that they bought one.
    I have also been praising the excellent Breakdown Show on Arsenal Player, and that i can watch a game again(i like to do my own mini breakdown before watching The Breakdown on Arsenal Player).

  14. Disappointing to hear about Clattenburg. He seemed to be one of the better ones at one time.

    Tony, I would only say this – however enormous the wages of some of the players, the owners, directors and the rest will be making far, far more. Or else why would they bother?

  15. Things are changing over there though , the other clubs in La Liga are threatening to strike until the disparity of T.V money is sorted . They have just reminded Real and Barca that they make up their opponents and without them they have no games to play. This why the big two are pushing for a European super league.

  16. @Pat,
    The only way Arsenal directors can make money is by selling their shares at a price greater than the purchase price.

  17. I’ve waited a long time for the Premier League “Bubble” to burst. It hasn’t yet, but it will. Why? Because the average age of a Premier League club season ticket holder is going up and up. They won’t give up their season tickets but will loan them out. The effect of all this will be that a whole generation of teenagers has missed out on attending their clubs’ matches with friends on a regular basis, which is how we learned the habit of supporting our club, and the next generation won’t be able to afford to go or have the desire to: underlining the broadcasters’ concern about empty grounds; (as if I’m bothered!!).
    I come from Hackney, so going to games then at any time wasn’t too much of a difficulty; I moved to Horsham forty years ago and going to the game was easy – Saturday afternoon at 15:00.
    I started to miss games because of this inconvenience of movable fixtures because of Sky TV and other broadcasters and I’m clearly not alone in this.
    I don’t like governments poking their noses into every aspect of our lives but sometimes they may need to. I would not object if the Government legislated that only EU nationals can have a majority shareholding in a professional football club. As more “foreign” money comes into football the more TV companies, and now betting companies from China and the Far East where there is an amazing gambling culture, are involved. Perhaps a Columbian drug cartel can sponsor football too, there seems to be no realistic “right & proper” person test to stop them.
    Perhaps there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll never stop being a Gooner. I inherited it from my father, passed it on to my son, and in his turn my grandchildren are Gooners too. But Horsham FC, if they can keep going, kick-off on Saturdays at 15:00; so does AFC Wimbledon; but I don’t want to give up Arsenal.
    There must come a time when politicians finally wake up to what is happening to our National Game?!?!
    OK. Rant over.
    Thanks for the outlet.

  18. @Horsham After a match fixing scandal in the US in 1919, the baseball authorities came down really hard on any link between clubs and players and betting. Arguably the best player of his generation, Pete Rose, is not in the US baseball hall of fame because he bet on games, when he was a player and manager. Amazing that there are no such restrictions in the UK.

  19. @Horsham Gooner – I agree about ownership. There are several stocks that are limited to UK nationals/residents but perhaps now EU nationals are included. Sports clubs should also be limited to UK nationals &/or EU nationals. More important is playing times should be limited for EPL games to Saturdays 3pm or Sundays 5pm. Evening kick offs for Cup games only.

    The government have a vested interest in allowing wealthy owners access but in the process launder ill gotten gains with a smile.

    Too many corrupt practices being given openings in UK due to greed & Thatchers market forces.

  20. The absolute disgrace is the vast amounts of money flowing in to football and so little being used to develop actually playing the game.
    Football pitches are desperately needed for grass roots football, also indoor facilities and coaches are essential for youth development. A small amount of the TV money spent on these things would give a much better chance of England doing well in international tournaments sometime in the future.
    The FA should be hanging their heads in shame. However they probably don’t know how to manage that either.

  21. The BBC is reporting the next contract will be 4.4 billion pounds Stirling, which is 6.9 billion US Dollars on todays market.

    That 4.4 (and increase from 3) has not been allocated yet. If a person could redirect 0.4 billion, ….

    This is one particular manufacturer (in the USA). Up front cost is a bit more than double, maintenance is only 25%. A new field is about $320,000. That amounts to 21,562 fields. Sure, that 320,000 probably assumes a lot of other work has already been done. I like Habitat for Humanity, people have to buy in if their own donated labour is part of things. So, say the EPL says they will install an artificial pitch for communities which will do the prepratory work (the EPL pays for materials). And at some point, the EPL phones a company like FieldTurf:

    Hello, Field Turf.

    Can I talk to sales please.

    I’ll put you through.

    [ two minutes of muzak ]

    Fred the sales geek, how can I help?

    I would like to buy ten thousand, seven hundred eighty one artificial fields for soccer. I was wondering what kind of discount I could get for a volume purchase.

    Are you kidding? This is a joke, right?

    Pardon me? No, I am not kidding. The is the Barclay’s English Premier League calling, and we want to install a few community football pitches, you call them soccer fields.

  22. I don’t know how many football pitches need to be redone in the UK. I would imagine that ten thousand has to put a serious dent in that demand.

    All these communities have supposedly paid for the initial installation of their existing pitches. They are struggling with maintenance. As sort of outlined above, communities don’t pay a darned thing to get their new field, but they need to donate all the labour to prepare for the fields to be installed.

    Maybe the EPL gets a 20% discount, and decides to install 20% more fields. It is just money.

    Now comes the fun part. All the communities that get a new field, send their maintenance budget to a trust fund, and the trust fund gives back the 25% needed/expected for maintenance. I have no idea how many pitches need to be redone, I am assuming it is more than 10 or 12 thousand. This pool of money is to be used to fund more pitch upgrades (and any pitch upgrades have to feed the fund with maintenance funds). After the first year, the maintenance fees that local councils have budgetted can decrease by something helpful. Does 10% work? The second year in, most are paying say 90% and some are paying 100%, and a bunch more fields can get renovated.

    There is an end to this, and I would presume it comes fairly soon, so you probably don’t need the trust trying to beat the market to increase its worth. And places that get fields replaced after the first batch, probably end up contributing less than the original batch, so you probably pick the original batch on their existing ability to pay for maintenance. The hope is, that this one time “gift” by the EPL leads to all fields that need replacing, to be replaced. No taxes money required. FA doesn’t get to see the money.

    Communities need to budget (or the trust fund does?) for replacing the turf when it is worn out.

    One of the points in the FieldTurf cost analysis, is that the field can be used more than a grass field can. So, perhaps a person uses this big pool of money to increase how many referees and coaches are trained.

    But, I am not an economist.

  23. Hmmm, the newest page I think needs a kosher joke, but it’s too early. Courtesy of JumboJoke.

    Kosher Computers

    I don’t know if you know this, but you can now purchase Kosher computers! They are made in Israel by a company called DELL-SHALOM. The price is great, even with the shipping from Israel. I’ve been using one now for several weeks and highly recommend it.

    However, before you purchase a kosher computer of your own, you should know that there are some important differences from the typical non-kosher computer you are used to. These include:

    1) The “Start” button has been replaced with the “Let’s go!! I’m not getting any younger!” button.

    2) I hear “Hava Nagila” during startup.

    3) The cursor moves from right to left.

    4) When Spellchecker finds an error it prompts, “Is this the best you can do?”

    5) When I look at erotic images, my computer says, “If your mother knew you did this, she would die.”

    6) It comes with a “monitor cleaning solution” from Manischewitz that advertises it gets rid of all the “schmutz und dreck.”

    7) When running “Scan Disk” it prompts with me with a “You want I should fix this?” message.

    8) After 20 minutes of no activity, my PC goes “Schloffen”.

    9) The PC shuts down automatically at sundown on Friday.

    10) It comes with two hard drives — one for fleyshedik (business software, aka “meat”), and one for milchedik (games — “dairy”).

    11) Instead of getting a “General Protection Fault” error, my PC now gets “Ferklempt”.

    12) The multimedia player has been renamed, “Nu, so play my music already!”

    13) Internet Explorer has a spinning “Star of David” in the upper right corner.

    14) When my PC is working too hard, I occasionally hear a loud “Oy Vey!”

    15) Computer viruses can now be cured with matzo ball soup.

    16) When disconnecting external devices from the back of my PC, I am instructed to “Remove the cable from the PC’s tuchis.”

    17) After my computer dies, I have to dispose of it within 24 hours.

    But it’s worth all of that, since if you have a kosher computer, you can’t get Spam!

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