Thu, Oct 13, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Liverpool want bigger share of overseas television pie

Reuters, LONDON

Liverpool want a larger share of the overseas TV rights money currently negotiated collectively by the Premier League on behalf of the clubs and have raised the prospect of negotiating their own deal, British media reported yesterday.

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre was quoted in the Guardian as saying that the break-up of the established broadcasting deal for English top flight clubs is “a debate that has to happen” with the Anfield club favoring the Spanish model.

The £1.4 billion (US$2.2 billion) international rights deal covering the period from last year to 2013 is shared equally between all the Premier League clubs. In Spain, Barcelona and Real Madrid negotiate their own individual TV contracts.

The Guardian said Ayre believes the Premier League’s four biggest global draws — Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal — deserve an increased share of overseas TV revenue from 2013 to match their global popularity.

“Personally, I think the game-changer is going out and recognizing our brand globally,” Ayre said. “Maybe the path will be individual TV rights like they do in Spain. There are so many things moving in that particular area.”

“What is absolutely certain is that, with the greatest of respect to our colleagues in the Premier League, but if you’re a Bolton fan in Bolton, then you subscribe to Sky because you want to watch Bolton. Everyone gets that. Likewise, if you’re a Liverpool fan from Liverpool, you subscribe,” Ayre said. “But if you’re in Kuala Lumpur, there isn’t anyone subscribing to Astro, or ESPN to watch Bolton, or if they are it’s a very small number. Whereas the large majority are subscribing because they want to watch Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal.”

“So is it right that the international rights are shared equally between all the clubs?” asked Ayre, whose club, along with all the others in the Premier league, last season received £17.9 million each from the overseas TV deal.

“Some people will say: ‘Well you’ve got to all be in it to make it happen.’ But isn’t it really about where the revenue is coming from, which is the broadcaster, and isn’t it really about who people want to watch on that channel?” Ayre asked.

“We know it is us. And others. At some point we definitely feel there has to be some rebalance on that, because what we are actually doing is disadvantaging ourselves against other big European clubs,” Ayre was quoted as saying. “If Real Madrid or Barcelona or other big European clubs have the opportunity to truly realize their international media value potential, where does that leave Liverpool and Manchester United?”

“We’ll just share ours because we’ll all be nice to each other? The whole phenomenon of the Premier League could be threatened,” Ayre said. “If they just get bigger and bigger and they generate more and more, then all the players will start drifting that way and will the Premier League bubble burst because we are sticking to this equal-sharing model? It’s a real debate that has to happen.”

Any change to the current collective TV arrangement — the so-called Founder Members’ Agreement — would require a proposal to be put before the Premier League and 14 of the 20 clubs voting in favor of a new commercial arrangement.

Liverpool plan to raise the issue at the next Premier League meeting, British media reported.

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