Leagueexit possible as rebel clubs reject compromise offer
Thursday, 15th Nov 2018 16:45 by Tim Whelan
The prospect of a breakaway from the Football League is growing, as the 15 leading Championship clubs refusing to sign up to a new 5 deal with Sky have rejected a compromise proposal from the EFL to sign a three-year deal instead.
According to the Times, the EFL is now taking legal advice and are believed to have given the rebel clubs a deadline of 4pm on Monday next week to accept or reject Sky’s offer. And some of the clubs are considering calling for the resignation of Shaun Harvey, the EFL (and former Leeds) chief executive, though he is believed to retain the support of the EFL board.
It’s no surprise to learn that one of the ringleaders of the rebel group is our very own Andrea Radrizzani, the other being Derby County owner Mel Morris. The Times have named Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, Norwich City, Reading, Preston North End, Nottingham Forest, Middlesbrough, Swansea City and Birmingham City as being other members of the group. It’s the smaller Championship clubs, including Rotherham United and Millwall, who have remained loyal to the Football League.
All 24 Championship clubs were invited to an unofficial meeting on Monday before the clubs formally met the Football League. Only 16 attended the first meeting, with Brentford being the ones who turned up but declined to commit themselves to joining the rebel group. The rest have written to EFL interim chairwoman Debbie Jevans last week to spell out their opposition to “entering into a binding multi-year agreement with Sky” and warning of “drastic action” if the deal wasn’t rejected.
The remaining 15 told the league “A significant number of Championship clubs who deliver the majority of the EFL TV audiences were sufficiently concerned about signing this agreement that they felt compelled to convene outside the formal meeting. In this meeting — when surveyed anonymously — almost all attendees expressed the view that if the EFL were unwilling to give these clubs more involvement in the process of commercialising their rights, they would, in extremis, be forced to contemplate more drastic action.”
The second official emergency EFL meeting, attended by all 24 clubs, broke up without any agreement being reached, and the League have confirmed that the possibility of a breakaway league was threatened even though this hasn’t been officially mentioned in the rebel clubs letter.
The League have warned the 15 that if they form a breakaway league, they could lose their entitlement to play in the Carabao Cup, which accounts for 35 per cent of the £119 million per year on offer from Sky. And there is no guarantee that clubs would be accepted from promotion from any such League to the Premiership, as the EPL is believed to be opposed to a ‘Premier League 2’.
The rebel 15 believe that the offer from Sky undervalues the TV rights of the Championship and they want the League to set up “a new task force comprising certain Championship club owners and/or senior executives” to pursue a new commercial strategy.
But so far the rebel group have failed to attract any alternative offers from any other broadcaster. So it time for Radrizzani’s own company, Eleven Sports to get involved? This season they managed to secure the UK rights for the Spanish and Italian leagues (previously held by Sky and BT Sport respectively) so evidently they are intent on becoming serious players in the UK market.
If Radz seriously believes that Shaun Harvey is a rank amateur in the world of negotiations for TV rights, is it time for him to put his money where his mouth is?
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