Liverpool wants greater share of TV rights money

Liverpool wants the Premier League’s top clubs to be allowed to

emulate Barcelona and Real Madrid by selling their own overseas

television rights.

The Premier League describes its TV revenue distribution system

as the ”most equitable of Europe’s major leagues,” with each of

the 20 clubs receiving 17.9 million pounds ($28 million) from

overseas broadcasters last season.

But Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre believes it is unfair

that high-profile clubs with a global appeal are part of a

collective deal that is worth 1.4 billion pounds ($2.2 billion)

under a three-year deal.

”At some point we definitely feel there has to be some

rebalance because what we are actually doing is disadvantaging

ourselves against other big European clubs,” Ayre said.

The domestic TV deal with Sky Sports and ESPN is weighted more

in favor of the larger clubs, with part of the payment based on how

many times their games are shown live in Britain.

Liverpool, which won the last of its 18 English titles in 1990,

received 55 million pounds ($86 million) in total from broadcasters

last season despite finishing sixth, 2 million pounds ($2 million)

more than fifth-place Tottenham.

Spanish and European champion Barcelona receives around $250

million annually from broadcasters.

Ahead of Liverpool’s match against Manchester United on

Saturday, Ayre said ”in Kuala Lumpur there isn’t anyone

subscribing to ESPN to watch Bolton.”

”The large majority are subscribing because they want to watch

Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal,” Ayre added.

”So is it right that the international rights are shared equally

between all the clubs?”

But most Premier League clubs support the status quo because

their revenue would drop if there was a change, which would require

approval of 14 of the 20 sides.

”Do we just share ours because we’ll all be nice to each

other?” Ayre asked. ”The whole phenomenon of the Premier League

could be threatened if the Spanish clubs just get bigger and bigger

and they generate more and more. Then all the players will start

drifting that way.

”Will the Premier League bubble be burst because we are

sticking to this equal-sharing model? It’s a real debate that has

to happen.”

The league released new figures Wednesday from business research

consultancy SPORT+MARKT claiming that match coverage last season

reached 643 million homes worldwide and 777 million viewers away

from their homes.

The research projected a global following for the league of 1.46

billion, or an estimated 70 percent of football fans.

”This remarkable increase lies largely in the redistribution of

international rights for the start of the new three-year broadcast

term last year,” said Andrew Walsh, SPORT+MARKT’s head of

international affairs. ”One of the main drivers of that

development was the switch of the league’s broadcast rights from a

Pay TV broadcaster to terrestrial coverage in China which really

has burst open the floodgates in terms of the Premier League’s

popularity in the world’s most populous and fastest-growing

market.”

The research was carried out in 36 countries, surveying 1,000

people in each of those markets.