The Premier League yesterday promised to spend at least £1bn of the more than £5bn domestic TV deal outside the top flight and has committed all clubs to pay staff the living wage. In the first meeting of the 20 top-flight clubs since Sky and BT Sport agreed to pay £5.14bn for domestic live rights from 2016-17, the chief executive, Richard Scudamore, said they had committed to redistribute at least £50m each over three seasons. “This is unprecedented in world sport. You can’t find me another sport that is committed to this level of sharing,” said Scudamore, who will become executive chairman under a board shakeup also confirmed at the meeting. “It’s sharing in the success of English football. This, in my view, is the right thing to do.”
The £1bn pledged, includes money given to relegated clubs in the form of parachute payments and so-called solidarity payments to the Football League and Conference. However, it will also include increased investment in grassroots sport, facilities and fan engagement, including more money for the fund that clubs use to subsidise tickets and travel for away supporters. Whether it will be enough to satisfy fans’ groups remains to be seen as among other things, the Football Supporters’ Federation has called for an increase in the away fans’ fund to £1m per club per year. “We can’t deal with every issue the game has but I think this is a very significant decision the clubs have made,” Scudamore said. “While government funding for local authorities is chopped, while things are tight and others not as fortunate as us, everyone recognises we have a role to play in sharing. For the clubs to commit this early to £1bn of this TV deal to be shared, it’s a significant step, and to sign up to the living wage for all 20 clubs this early, that is also significant.”
Campaigners and MPs have been pressuring the 20 Premier League clubs to commit to paying the living wage, set at £9.15 an hour in London and £7.85 outside, and now all the clubs have now agreed to pay all full-time staff the living wage by the start of the 2016-17 season at the latest. “The clubs absolutely get that if you are paying players x, and x is a big number, it does look a little incongruous if you are only paying your employees y. Hence the decision today and I’m proud of them for making that decision.” The farce in this situation though, is that the commitment extends only to full-time staff and not to the contractors who make up almost all of the match day workforce.
A top football prediction would suggest that the fact that Scudamore will soon be promoted from chief executive to executive chairman, may have a lot to do with the magnitude of this new deal which has made everyone involved “slightly” better off financially!