When Ian Ayre, the managing Director of Liverpool FC, came out last week and said that all Premier League teams should be able to negotiate their own individual Television deals abroad, he may as well have been saying ‘Greed is Good’.
Mr Ayre proposes that each club should be able to negotiate their own television rights individually and not have a deal negotiated on their behalf, which is then split equally between all 20 clubs in the premier league. The current system is a fair and democratic way of spreading the wealth and making sure everyone gets a piece of the pie.
I can see where Mr Ayre is coming from and can almost sympathise with him, well almost. Liverpool are a world renowned club and comparing their fan base and stature to that of say, Wigan, is like comparing the ability of Del Piero and Pele (Obviously Del Piero is Liverpool in this comparison). Why should they get the same amount of money as a club that isn’t as well know in Kuala Lumpur? (Mr Ayre’s example not mine) Well, simply put, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. (Thanks Mr Spock)
There are really only five or six clubs with genuine world wide appeal in the Premier League. Clubs like Wigan, and even Tottenham, could find themselves struggling to sell their international TV rights and make the amount of money they have been accustom to recently. This would be a drop in revenue that most clubs would find hard to take, with a lot of them budgeting for the season using this income.
When you take the glamour teams out of the Premier League, and I count five, then the rest of the teams negotiating deals with foreign TV companies would draw comparisons to the motion picture, Glengarry Glen Ross. In the movie, desperate salesmen are forced to sell a product to uninterested clients (Stoke vs Norwich anyone?) and that’s what three quarters of the Premier League would be forced to do. The foreign market would only be interested when teams are playing a Manchester United or a Liverpool.
The problem with the Premier League is that it has a lot of games that aren’t exactly enticing. I would rather watch Getafe vs Racing Santander or Mainz vs Nuremberg than Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Stoke and it’s not always about the football. A lot of the time it’s because the foreign teams just sound sexier…Ge-ta-fe, sounds like a Hispanic swear word, whereas Wolverhampton Wanderers sounds like a shelter for the homeless.
How do you go about making the less know clubs more attractive to foreign fans? The solution is obvious and easy to implement, change the names of the lesser teams to sound more exciting and alluring. Imagine the following games:
Borussia Blackburn vs Racing Stoke
Athletico Norwich vs Wigan Whitecaps
Real Celtic vs Bayern Rangers
There would be no change in the quality of the football or the players, they wouldn’t even have to move city, the matches would just sound less like a snooze fest and that’s half the battle. It doesn’t matter how dull these games end up being as long as they entice the customer to part with their cash. I’m pretty sure Johnny foreigner will eat it up with a spoon.
Are Liverpool being selfish and greedy with this proposal? I think it’s a case of self-preservation as much as greed, after all with no Champions League money and the disaster that was Gillett and Hicks; they could do with any new revenue coming in. They can push for this change all they want but it looks like a non starter since Manchester United and Chelsea have distanced themselves from it. They need a majority vote of 14 out of 20 but until Manchester City are getting swamped by fans in the Middle East or Blackburn are making commercials in India, I cant see it happening.
By Chris Gallagher. You can follow him on Twitter @SubSceneRecords.