Soccer

FSA urges Premier League to ‘make sure supporters rewarded’ by record TV deal

Match-going fans must benefit from the Premier League’s record-breaking TV deal, the FSA has said (Barrington Coombs/PA)
Match-going fans must benefit from the Premier League’s record-breaking TV deal, the FSA has said (Barrington Coombs/PA) Match-going fans must benefit from the Premier League’s record-breaking TV deal, the FSA has said (Barrington Coombs/PA)

Premier League clubs must use their record-breaking television revenues to make matchday attendance more affordable for fans, the Football Supporters’ Association has said.

The league announced domestic media rights sales worth £6.7billion on Monday for the four seasons starting in 2025-26, with the live rights increasing in value by four per cent within that to £6.406bn compared to the current cycle.

The league described the deal as “the largest sports media rights deals ever concluded in the UK”.

That increase in value has been achieved by selling even more games for live coverage – up to 270 of the 380 games per season from 2025-26 compared to 200 a season in the current cycle.

FSA chair Malcolm Clarke says this will create a “massive headache” for match-going fans and wants top-flight clubs to think creatively about how they can reward the supporters who generate the atmosphere which league bosses acknowledge is one of the competition’s most attractive qualities.

“The new TV deal will have a huge impact on match-goers with fewer fixtures than ever played on Saturday at 3pm – it’s a massive headache for supporters trying to get to and from games at unsociable hours,” Clarke said in a statement issued to the PA news agency.

“Broadcasters have almost absolute power in dictating kick-off times, often to the detriment of supporters, and we want to see top-flight clubs and the Premier League doing a lot more for supporters with the money generated.

“Premier League chief executive Richard Masters says this deal is a testament to players, managers and supporters who create ‘an unrivalled atmosphere every week’ – so let’s make sure supporters are rewarded with affordable football home and away at every club.”

Premier League clubs voted in June 2022 to maintain the £30 cap on away tickets for the next three seasons, meaning any change in the cap would come into force in the first season of the new domestic TV cycle.

Clarke also called for “far more equitable distribution” of the Premier League’s income throughout the football pyramid to “protect both the grassroots of the game and our historic football clubs who play such a vital role in our communities”.

Talks are ongoing between the Premier League, the English Football League and the Football Association about the ‘New Deal For Football’, essentially an agreement on how television revenue should be distributed down the pyramid in the future.

The deal will also cover new cost control measures as the professional game prepares for the arrival of an independent regulator, plus changes to the domestic calendar to balance the increased demands from international club competitions such as the expanded Champions League and Club World Cup.

Premier League rights increased in value by four per cent (Mike Egerton/PA)
Premier League rights increased in value by four per cent (Mike Egerton/PA) Premier League rights increased in value by four per cent (Mike Egerton/PA)

The Premier League’s handling of its latest domestic rights sale has been declared a success by Francois Godard, a senior media and telecoms analyst at Enders Analysis.

“I think it’s a good deal because prices for rights are flat across Europe, or declining,” Godard told PA.

“The important thing is to maintain the gap between the money they earn and the money earned by the closest (rival) continentally, Spain’s LaLiga.”

Godard felt the structure of the deal – spread over four years instead of the traditional three years and with two fewer packages on offer – suited the largest incumbent rights holders Sky Sports, which he feels has a symbiotic relationship with the league.

“Sky need the Premier League. It’s their best and most valuable content,” Godard added.

“I see this from a continental point of view. Sky understands that the value of the Premier League depends on how much they pay. If they pay less they will undermine the value at some point.

“Of course it could have paid three per cent less, OK, but they understand the Premier League needs to secure a higher revenue to deliver this fantastic competition.

“I say that because I see that, in some continental markets, the incumbent only thinks of saving money, whereas saving money is undermining the value of what you get.”

Sky Sports secured four of the five packages – the most any single broadcaster was allowed to buy – with TNT securing the fifth which retains their right to broadcast 52 matches a season with the primary kick-off slot of Saturday 12.30pm.

It is understood that the make-up of the packages, and the difficulty in exploiting a premium, high-volume model within its Prime subscription service, was the reason for Amazon’s decision not to bid.

It has held the rights to 20 games per season since 2019, and last year secured the UK rights to screen 17 first-pick Champions League matches on a Tuesday night for three seasons from 2024-25.

Streaming service DAZN had publicly said it would look at the Premier League rights but did not secure any of the packages. DAZN has been contacted for comment.