The Premier League has announced that at least £1bn of its £5bn domestic TV deal will be redistributed outside the top flight and committing all clubs to pay staff the living wage.
Following the breaking record TV deal signed by Sky and BT Sport agreeing to pay £5.14bn for domestic live rights from 2016-17, the chief executive,Richard Scudamore, said they had committed to redistribute at least £50m each over three seasons.
“This is unprecedented in world sport. You can’t find me another sport that is committed to this level of sharing,” said Scudamore, who will become executive chairman under a board shakeup also confirmed at the meeting. “It’s sharing in the success of English football. And this, in my view, is the right thing to do.”
He outlined five areas in which the money would be invested but said it was too early to say how much each would receive until overseas deals, which could take the total to £8.5bn, were negotiated over the rest of the year.
The £1bn – likely to represent a rise of at least 40% in cash terms on the current deal – includes money given to relegated clubs in the form of parachute payments and so-called solidarity payments to the Football League and Conference.
However, it will also include increased investment in grassroots sport, facilities and fan engagement, including more money for the fund that clubs use to subsidise tickets and travel for away supporters.
Among other things, the Football Supporters’ Federation has called for a five-fold increase in the away fans’ fund to £1m per club per year. However, Scudamore said ticket pricing would largely remain a matter for the clubs.
“We can’t deal with every issue the game has but I think this is a very significant decision the clubs have made,” he said. While government funding for local authorities is chopped, while things are tight and others not as fortunate as us, everyone recognises we have a role to play in sharing.”
The UK domestic live deal was a 70% increase on the current contract but Scudamore said once international sales were factored in, the percentage uplift would be lower.
Campaigners and MPs have been pressuring the 20 Premier League clubs to commit to paying the living wage, set at £9.15 an hour in London and £7.85 outside, but only Chelsea currently do so. Scudamore was stung by criticism over the issue after unveiling the bumper TV deal but clubs have now agreed to pay all full-time staff the living wage by the start of the 2016-17 season at the latest.
“The clubs absolutely get that if you are paying players X, and X is a big number, it does look a little incongruous if you are only paying your employees. Hence the decision today and I’m proud of them for making that decision.” However, the commitment extends only to full-time staff and not to the contractors who make up large swathes of the matchday workforce.
The director of the living wage campaign, Rhys Moore, broadly welcomed the promise but said it should be extended to subcontractors such as matchday stewards and catering staff.
“It is definitely a move in the right direction. However, the vast majority of low-paid work in the Premier League is with subcontractors. This commitment doesn’t address that, which is why we think living wage accreditation is so important,” said Moore.
“The commitment Chelsea made to become the only accredited living wage employer in the Premier League goes so much further than this.”
Scudamore would not be drawn on whether any of the extra money would help fund the FA chairman Greg Dyke’s £230m plan for 150 new 3G pitches around the country, saying only it had remained committed to investing in facilities. In contrast, he said, the FA and the government had historically “chopped and chopped” their investment.
Scudamore said he was unconcerned that there were no Premier League clubs in the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the second time in three seasons. He said his only measures of success were attendance and global viewing figures.
“People like what we do. We’ve never put false measures in that we must win X number of Champions Leagues. Our matches, our top clubs, the viewing is going up and up around the world, irrespective of European success or otherwise. Interestingly, Champions League audiences don’t do as well when our clubs aren’t in it.”
Under the governance changes, the Premier League will have a board of three – with the addition of two non-executive directors for the first time in the Halfords director, Claudia Arney, and the Taylor Wimpey chairman, Kevin Beeston, who is a former Ipswich Town director.
Scudamore defended his looming promotion from chief executive to executive chairman, which would be frowned upon under City regulatory guidance, on the basis that any major decisions are still put before the 20 clubs.
He said the clubs should get more credit for the investment they make and argued the early commitment to the £1bn figure should help change perceptions.
“The clubs never get enough credit for what they do. This is an element of them trying to get a bit of that ground back. There will be something people ought to be able to recognise. These are significant things and if we communicate properly, I do hope over time people will appreciate what we do.” [Source: The Guardian]