EPL Clubs Agree On New Media Access Rules; Weekly Player Availability Mandated
The 20 EPL clubs have agreed to "new rules on media access as part of a range of measures designed to bring fans closer to players and maintain good relations with the broadcasters who pour billions into the game," according to Owen Gibson of the GUARDIAN. The clubs have "agreed to operate 'mixed zones' for rights-holding broadcasters after each match and make at least one player available for two hours every week." Each EPL manager and a starting player "will also be required to conduct a brief interview" when they arrive at the stadium. Sky Sports, BT Sport or Premier League TV "will be allowed to ask three questions of them as they arrive." Each starting player at each club "will have to be made available at least once a season for the two-hour weekly interview slot." There has been a "long-standing desire from rights holders, who look longingly at the American model with mandated locker-room access, to increase the amount of access to players they are offered beyond the traditional post-match interview." BT Sport, in particular, is "keen to take its cameras into new areas and wants to work with clubs to make dressing-room broadcasts a possibility." Former Manchester United coach Alex Ferguson's "refusal to speak to the BBC for seven years was the most obvious example of the extent to which some clubs rode roughshod over the existing rules" (GUARDIAN, 6/7).
SHOW OF STRENGTH: REUTERS' Keith Weir reported lucrative new TV deals starting in August offer EPL clubs a "golden opportunity" to strengthen finances undermined by the vast sums they pay to players. A study by Deloitte showed that football is "increasingly prized by broadcasters seeking to drive pay TV audiences," and clubs in Germany and England "will start to enjoy the benefits of enhanced TV deals from August." Sales of rights around the globe "have inflated total TV revenues" for the EPL to an estimated US$8.6M over the next three years (REUTERS, 6/6). The PA's Martyn Ziegler reported EPL clubs will begin to receive an extra US$39M on average each year from the new TV contracts, and for most clubs "that could wipe out their losses." Relegated clubs will also receive up to US$94M in parachute payments. The Deloitte report predicts that "player wage costs will rise considerably with the new TV money coming in" -- but said that clubs "should keep that rise to respectable levels" (PA, 6/6).