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Short sighted Liverpool inadvertently reveal desperation
Short sighted Liverpool inadvertently reveal desperation
Wednesday, 12th Oct 2011 16:59

Liverpool's managing director, Ian Ayre, has stated his desire for the top four clubs in England, including Arsenal (just in case you had any doubt), to be able to negotiate their own international TV rights.

In The Guardian he justified his view with this explanation: '"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. 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."

This is, in part, true. However, most fans around the world subscribe to watch these teams because they are invariably involved in exciting, competitive matches. This is because these clubs are generally in the fight for trophies domestically and in Europe in the closing months of the season but more importantly, because every club in the Premier League will do everything to compete in every single match they play, whether they are at home to Man Utd or away to Swansea. This is possible because the Premier League TV rights are shared equally amongst the top 20 clubs in England, meaning clubs who have never played in the league before still have a chance to invest in their squads and give themselves a fighting chance of survival.

Obviously, the revenues generated by Champions League qualification still mean there is a gulf in income in the league but if TV rights were also weighted towards the most popular clubs, we would be faced with the generally predictable results in Spain where most clubs in the league are overpowered by the incredible financial advantage that Real Madrid and Barcelona enjoy by negotiating their own TV deals. 

Currently this means they can generate large revenues because of the top players that they attract but the more competitive nature of the Premier League means that in the long run, the Premier League clubs will still benefit by splitting the revenue equally.

The international rights generated £625 million for the Premier League between 2007-10 but this increased to £1.4 billion for 2010-13 and with the games being shown in 212 countries this is set to increase substantially again. This is purely because of the league's comparatively unpredictability. 

Ian Ayre's desire to be able to negotiate individual deals suggests that Liverpool are desperate for new revenue streams and are willing to sacrifice the league that they play in to generate extra income in the short term. This will only enable the top four clubs to always stay as the top four and although this is currently an attractive proposition for Liverpool and Arsenal, it would be bad news for the Premier League.

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