The Premier League has agreed to roll over its existing TV rights deal with UK broadcasters until 2025 – and lower league clubs are set to benefit.
The agreement, worth £5 billion, will see Sky, BT, Amazon and the BBC retain the broadcasting rights to England’s top football division for a further three years from 2022, essentially extending the £4.7 billion deal agreed in 2018.
In light of a 10% drop in value since the onset of the global pandemic, the EPL has been awarded a negotiation exemption by the UK government under the competition act, which allows the league to renew without its normal tender process.
Back in March 2020, Covid-19 regulations forced a ban on crowd attendance at major sporting events, and with supporters still unable to enter stadiums over a year later, annual club revenues have plummeted. Over the course of the season, television companies have also received rebates on their existing deals.
As part of the new agreement, England’s largest clubs – the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool – have also agreed to a so-called “solidarity payment” for the country’s lower leagues, with the Premier League said to be awarding additional funding to around 1000 clubs at both professional and grassroots levels, as well to womens’ football.
“Covid-19 has had a significant impact on football, and renewals with our UK broadcast partners will reduce uncertainty, generate stability and promote confidence within the football pyramid,” EPL CEO Richard Masters said in a statement.
The 2018 broadcast deal was also the first to see Amazon acquire a package of rights for Premier League matches, televised as part of the company’s Amazon Prime Video streaming service. The new deal will see the streamer maintain these rights until 2025.
Super League fears
While it was largely expected that the UK’s major broadcasters would retain the right to televise Premier League matches, the furore surrounding the proposed European Super League (ESL) brought the value of English football into stark relief.
Should the ESL have gained traction beyond the preliminary agreement signed by the European clubs involved, the broadcasting rights to the Premier League – and indeed the existence of the Premier League as a competition – would have been thrown up in the air.
The announcement of a new broadcast deal, then – which remains signed “in principle” – should serve to quell fears of a dissolved English league system.
ITV also recently withdrew its interest in a BT Sport takeover, which would have seen the channel obtain the rights to select Premier League matches, as well as the Champions League.
All in all, then, things are essentially staying the same. With talks of a European Super League still on the lips of many club executives, though, the immediate future of the Premier League shouldn’t be taken for granted.