Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughNew deal, same old problems - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough New deal, same old problems - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

New deal, same old problems

It was announced last week that Sky Sports submitted a bid for the rights to broadcast 75 live Football League matches and the Carling Cup for three years from the 2012-13 season. No other broadcaster submitted a bid, it is believed. Thus, Sky Sports won a little bit more of English football’s soul.

The current deal, with the BBC, raises £88 million-a-year for the Football League, whilst the new live games deal is a full £23 million less than this, leaving a gaping hole in the finances for the League. Although a terrestrial TV highlights package is still up for grabs and is expected to raise a seven-figure sum.

Admittedly, the Beeb’s coverage of The Football League has so far been limited to ten games year live (nearly ALWAYS featuring the team that is top of the Championship or the South Wales derby) and a strikingly-mediocre Saturday night highlights package broadcast in the no-man’s land of after Match of the Day and before drunk revellers come home. Oh, and something called ‘Late Kick-Off’ on a Monday night.

Sky’s coverage was always more professional, albeit hopelessly overhyped but that’s beside the point for two reasons.

Firstly, it means that the only remaining live English football on terrestrial TV will be the FA Cup on ITV which is a great shame for football. The original deal was pretty poor for the BBC anyway as £88 million for 11 games a season (10 Football League and the Carling Cup final) was not worth pursuing and in a time of budget restructuring at the Corporation, a similar deal was never going to be on the cards. Furthermore, the Football League is not in a position to play hardball due to its own need for cash.

Secondly, the £23 million loss is going to have a large impact on clubs in the Football League, many of whom operate on a shoe string budget as it is. Though in no way comparable to the collapse if ITV Digital in 2002 where the Football League lost £80 million overnight, the squeeze will be felt throughout the League.

However, it is testament to the Football League’s ongoing regulation of finances, particularly at Leagues One and Two level, that the new shortfall in TV rights can be more easily managed. The Football League estimates that 82% of player contracts in the league will have expired by the time the new deal comes into place, meaning clubs have more room to manoeuvre within their budgets.

One imagines it would be too much to ask of the Premier League if they could afford to spend a pittance of their own TV rights deal on helping out the Football League. Perhaps by backtracking on their ridiculous extended parachute payments plan, which encourages excessive spending by clubs whilst in the Premier League and perpetuates the idea that the Premier League is only for a select few clubs by giving them a huge financial advantage over their rivals whilst in the Championship.

The parachute payment money could be spread out across the Football League pyramid instead, though one would be pissing in the wind for a considerable amount of time until that happened.


In other news, a couple of weeks ago, this blog asked would you ever, under any circumstances, sue your club, in relation to the case of a Reading fan and a Gylfi Sigurdsson shirt.

Well, ask and the North East shall deliver! A case even more outrageous came out on Thursday courtesy of Niall Quinn, Dijibril Cisse and Sunderland where one of Cisse’s shots in training knocked a fan out who is now in the process of suing the club, according to Quinn.

It is because of people like this why you can see signs at football stadiums now saying “Beware low-flying footballs”, as some sort of disclaimer to protect itself from money-grabbing ‘fans’.

Seriously, getting hit by a stray ball is an occupational hazard of the football fan, like drunk people being sick in your cab if you are a taxi driver or having to perform sins of the flesh if you want to be one of Charlie Sheen’s goddesses.

In my time supporting Reading, I have been hit or come close to being hit by shots from Sammy Igoe and James Harper (among others), which may well explain the quality of this week’s blog post.

To the civil courts!

You can follow the Layman at!/Dan_Whiteway

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