In a major boost to Sky Sports and BT Sport, the Premier League has agreed to roll over their current TV rights deal for another three years.
The current agreement ran out at the end of the 2021/22 season, and with the likes of ESPN and even Facebook said to be lurking the long-standing contract with the British broadcasters appeared to be under threat.
But the Premier League has agreed to renew the £4.8 billion contract under the same terms, meaning that Sky Sports and BT Sport will enjoy the lion’s share of the available matches with Amazon Prime and the BBC also being handed a small number of games.
To allow the contract to be renewed without first being put to a tendering process, the UK government granted an Exclusion Order as identified in the Competition Act 1998.
“In light of the damaging impact of the Covid-19 pandemic throughout the English football pyramid, the Premier League was able to demonstrate to the Government exceptional and compelling reasons for the Exclusion Order,” revealed a statement made by Premier League officials.
“As part of the Premier League’s developing strategic plan, the renewals will provide financial certainty to clubs throughout professional football as a result of maintaining current levels of support and enables the League to commit to increased funding. This will give security and continuity throughout the pyramid until at least 2025.”
That has staved off the threat of an auction, which could have seen more than £500 million in value wiped off the TV rights packages – that in turn would have impacted how much money trickled down in support to the grassroots of football.
BT Sport has already announced one change to their scheduling when the new contract gets underway at the end of next season. They will move their traditional 12:30 kick off game on a Saturday to a 19:45 evening slot, which will help teams that play in the Champions League on the preceding Wednesday to have more recovery time.
It is a huge coup for the broadcaster to continues as a Premier League partner, after rumours circulated that BT Sport was looking to exit the deal or pass on the rights to a strategic partner.
£100 Million Reasons Why
The great news for football fans in the UK is that, alongside their current TV subscriptions continuing to be of worth, some £100 million will flow from the broadcast deal down through the sport’s pyramid.
Spread across the next four years, the fund will be used to finance an array of support packages for those in the game most vulnerable to the ongoing economic impact of the Covid pandemic.
That includes the 1,000 plus clubs that make up the non-league system, teams in League One and Two, women’s and girls’ football plus the work of the Football Foundation, the charity that looks to enhance the quality and availability of grassroots sport.
The package will also be funnelled into a number of other areas, including research into the effects of heading the ball on illnesses/ailments later in life, as well as ongoing research into how to minimise the impact of discrimination of all kinds on the beautiful game.