Scottish Premier League Signs TV Deal With Sky, ESPN
The Scottish Premier League has agreed to a television deal "with Sky Sports and ESPN which will run until the end of the 2016-17 season,” according to Ewan Murray of the GUARDIAN. The nets will pay a combined $125.2M (all figures U.S.) “to continue to screen 30 live SPL matches each per season.” The figure represents an increase of $4.7M a year "on the existing broadcast agreement due to end” in ‘14. A key component of the deal “is the continuation of four Old Firm matches each season.” This “removes the possibility of the meaningful expansion of the 12-team SPL for which supporters have campaigned.” The league “had considered not extending its TV contracts beyond this season, which it was entitled to do due to a break clause in the existing deal which runs to the summer of 2014.” Had it done so, the SPL “could have established its own, standalone pay-per-view channel” (GUARDIAN, 11/22). In London, Graham Spiers notes after the collapse of the British arm of Setanta in ‘09, Sky and ESPN “picked up the SPL package, though their [$20.3M]-a-year offer, which the SPL accepted, was only half of the amount that Setanta had originally promised.” The SPL has, in effect, “renegotiated a deal that still had two years to run and the arrangement clearly thrilled” SPL CEO Neil Doncaster. He said, “I don’t believe the deal could have been better. There remains a huge interest in SPL football, and Sky and ESPN want to be a part of it.” Spiers notes the new deal will see all 12 SPL club dividing the $25M annual TV pot "between them" (LONDON TIMES, 11/22). The TV deal “comes just over a week since Clydesdale Bank revealed they would not be extending their title sponsorship of the league,” worth more than $3.1M a season, when it expires in ’13 (THE SCOTSMAN, 11/22).
OLD FIRM NEW LOCATION: In London, Charles Sale reports SPL clubs Celtic and Rangers “are in talks to revive the 39th game concept that caused such a storm in England.” The clubs are looking to take one of their regular-season matches “abroad to boost revenues and enhance their profile during a most difficult period for Scottish club football, whose interest in European competition ended in August.” N.Y., “where there is a considerable following for both sides, was regarded as the most suitable location.” But there also has been “keen interest in hosting a competitive Celtic v Rangers game in Qatar” (London DAILY MAIL, 11/22).