by Tony Attwood
According to a report in the Telegraph, “Premier League clubs have been left stunned after being told that they could have to repay £350 million to the broadcasters – even if the season is completed behind closed doors.”
Apparently this scenario was set out in a presentation given by the Premier League on Monday this week. Sky and BT sport and international broadcasters who also have rights to Premier League games on TV are saying that the way the remaining 92 Premier League games are being presented is not in accordance with the contract between clubs and TV stations, which incorporates the times and days of the week games will be shown and states that the stadia will be open to the public.
As is now established, the refund from the clubs to the League will be £762m if no games are played – on average £38.1m a club, although there are adjustments for the number of times each club appears. The Premier League clubs have pretty much made it clear that in general, they cannot repay the money.
This is because many have already spent it. Indeed as I’ve quoted several times name, Wolverhampton has also already spent the first payment of next season’s TV deal. That’s the only club we have picked up evidence of, but it seems more than likely that other clubs which are anxious to avoid relegation or get a European spot, have done much the same.
But there is a problem, for in the Telegraph David Jamieson, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, said that it is “inconceivable” that (in the words of the newspaper) “supporters will not flock to matches being held at home grounds”,
He added that ghost matches at the normal grounds of clubs are “fraught with hazards” as he said football’s return could put a major strain on stretched police forces. This was in response to talks earlier this walk on abandoning the idea of neutral venues for games.
However the Daily Mail today says that players “face PERMANENT pay cuts if Project Restart fails and 2019-20 season is curtailed…” (sorry about the random words in CAPITALS it’s just a thing the Mail does – I do wish they’d fix their typesetting machine).
They continue, “some Premier League teams have even told their stars they face losing their playing contracts altogether as they spelt out the stark financial implications of not restarting the season.”
However the Mail did redeem itself somewhat with this lovely line: ” if you want to make a bad situation worse, it’s always worth getting the Football Association involved.”
Apparently, the paper said that “Greg Clarke, the FA chairman, told Premier League clubs the governing body would not sanction a season without promotion or relegation. Despite the fact it already has.”
It reaches this conclusion because “There was no objection from the FA to the decision which cancelled affairs in the Combined Counties League Division One for instance and with it the promotion of Jersey Bulls,” (in the Channel Islands).
Here’s the full Mail rant against points per game.
“If football does not recommence — and it is far from certain — Bournemouth would go down on 0.04 of a conceded goal. Statistics could become very important in the coming weeks, yet nobody in football seems very keen to use the principles of statistical analysis.
“Points per game. That is the likely deciding factor. A method of calculation so spectacularly shallow it does not take into account recent form, opposition, location, or any of the large number of external influences that contribute to a result.”
The problem with that approach is that everything is arbitrary. Three points for a win is just a device – it used to be two. Goal difference is just a device – we used to have goal average.
The Mail’s conclusion, after what is really quite a fun to-and-fro which goes nowhere at all, is that “if, after a full complement of games, home and away, Leeds are up and Norwich are down, that is fair. It may be a strangely hollow end to the season without fans and noise as its backdrop, but football will have done its best in horrible circumstances.
“Ending the season any other way, however, demonstrates scant feeling for fairness or consequence and a desperate need for action and drama.
“Although much of that may later unfold in a courtroom if the FA continues wielding its power so randomly.”
Alternatively, someone could sue all those involved in the Leagues and FA who never bothered to set up rules in advance of what should happen if the season could not be completed. And when you think of it that is not that unlikely in a world of climate change, supervolcanoes, and, well, the FA.
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