The Premier League has agreed a record £5.14bn TV Deal
Many United Kingdom politicians have called for more money, from the sale of domestic TV rights, to be put into grassroots football and the reduction ticket prices. Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore retorted by stating that the EPL was a success story and not a charity: “We’re not set up for charitable purposes. We are set up to be the best football competition. I believe the Premier League is a great UK export and it attracts a whole lot of positive feelings about the UK. If you go and do any international survey, things like the Premier League, the BBC, the Queen, they are things that people feel are good about the UK.” Sports minister Helen Grant also described the Premier League as “a great British success story” but said the TV deal should bring “increased benefits to clubs lower down the football pyramid” and called for further investment in facilities and supporters “who are the bedrock of the clubs they follow. It is also vital that clubs are run responsibly and sustainably.”
Many fans though have described the deal as “obscene” and are adamant that some of this money must funnel down to reducing the ticket prices that are described as the most expensive in Europe. The average price for the cheapest ticket in the Bundesliga is £10.33 and the average cost of the lowest price adult season ticket is £207.22, compared to £28.30 and £467.95 respectively in the English Premier League. La Liga charge an average of £232.80 for their cheapest season ticket and Serie A charge £164.89. The problem is that because Spanish and Italian clubs include the price of corporate and VIP tickets in their general pricing structures, while English and German clubs don’t, it is impossible to compare the average cost of the highest priced tickets on a like-for-like basis. What is very apparent though, is that the average price of cheapest tickets in England has risen at almost twice the rate of the cost of living since 2011.
Scudamore goes on to say that: “The Premier League, which was founded in 1992, is now being broadcast in 175 countries. In 1986 there was no one that wanted to broadcast football. There was not even a highlights programme. From the dark days of stadium disasters and other things, it’s an amazing rise.” As part of the current TV contract, the Premier League says it has invested £56m in grassroots football in each of the last three seasons but it is unclear how this will be affected by the new contract though and many are starting to feel that much more of this money must filter down.
Arsenal have the most expensive match-day ticket in the Premier League at £97, which is more than double the most expensive ticket at seven top-flight clubs. Hull, Leicester and West Ham charge £20 or less for their cheapest adult match-day ticket. Despite price rises this season, Premier League attendances are on the increase. The average crowd last season was 36,695 and grounds this season have been 95% full. Scudamore claimed attendances were the best since 1949-50 and defended the huge salaries some of the game’s stars earn. “Just like in the film industry or pop industry, or any talent industry, the talent gets paid a disproportionately high amount compared to other people in the business. We are in the entertainment industry. The stars that grace the fields in the Premier League are world stars. The fans want the best talent to come and play in the Premier League.”
Since the first TV rights auction for the 1992/97 EPL seasons were won for £191m there has been a constant increase with a real escalation since the arrival on the scene of BTsports in 2013: (1997/2001) £670m – (2001/2004) £1.2bn – (2004/2007) £1.024bn – (2007/2010) £1.707bn – (2010/2013) £1.773bn – (2013/2016) £3.018bn – (2016/2019) £5.136bn. Manchester United’s value on the New York Stock Exchange rose by almost 5% after the Premier League announcement on Tuesday, and shares closed at $17.03, up 77 cents. What’s happened in New York is evidence clubs are expecting their payday and Investors clearly believe this is a wise investment as a direct result of this announcement. A top football tipster won’t be predicting a change in practice anytime soon, but whilst few can argue that the Premier League is the best league in the world, many feel that the fans are at the heart of this success story and should not be forgotten!