TV Rights – Every Broadcaster for Themselves

 The other major financial factor surrounding football is the media. Since TV is the biggest broadcaster of the sport, this section will concentrate on that more than radio.

The three major broadcasters of football in the UK, Sky Sports, BBC and ITV, have fought over the rights for the Beautiful Game for years, with Sky often winning out for the right to show Premier League games. With other channels such as Setanta and ESPN entering the fray in recent years before opting out, it remains to be seen whether big-spending BT Sport can hold firm.

The evidence from the past year suggests they can, with the new-boys spending around £750 million last year to show 38 games per season for the next three years. They then shocked the footballing world in November by paying nearly £900 million across three years to be the only UK broadcaster allowed to show Champions League games.

The infograms here show how much UK broadcasters have spent to show football, whether it be live or highlights, for the 2012/13 season.

This chart shows the amount of money it cost broadcasters to show the Premier League this season

This chart shows the amount of money it cost broadcasters to show the Premier League this season

This chart shows the amount of money it cost broadcasters to show the FA Cup this season

This chart shows the amount of money it cost broadcasters to show the FA Cup this season

Football League

This chart shows the amount of money it cost broadcasters to show the Football League this season

This chart shows the amount of money it cost broadcasters to show the Champions League this season

This chart shows the amount of money it cost broadcasters to show the Champions League this season

As it stands, according to the FA, 50% of revenue is divided equally all 20 clubs, 25% is awarded depending on a club’s final league position, with the final 25% distributed as a facilities fee depending on how many games are shown live on TV. Income from any foreign broadcasters, such as Al Jazeera Sport in the United Arab Emirates and NBC Sports in the USA, is divided equally amongst every Premier League club. Last season this amount was £18,391,726.

The amount it costs per season to show football has increased every single year, meaning that Premier League teams earn more and more revenue each year from simply playing in the league. In the 2012/13 season, QPR finished bottom of the Premier League and earned £5.8 million from media revenue, along with an extra £0.75 million from the FA for finishing 20th.

The winners of the league, by contrast, will rake in approximately £72 million for their hard work as opposed to the £61.4 million Manchester United earned in 2013. They earned £15 million on merit for finishing top, and this amount decreases by around £0.75 million the lower down a team finishes. The ratio of earnings from Manchester United to QPR was 1.53:1. Each team also received nearly £14 million from the FA for competing on top of the overseas broadcast payments, a number which fluctuates from season-to-season depending on their income.

Arguably the most interesting statistic, and certainly the most useful, is that a team is paid a minimum of 10 ‘facility fees’ – no matter how many times they are shown on live TV. Last season, the sides on TV the most were Manchester United (25), Liverpool (22), Arsenal (22) and Manchester City (21). The facility fee was around £550,000. This leads to the conclusion that if a team wasn’t on TV at least 10 times a season, the broadcasters (which was only Sky Sports at the time) must feel that they will bring in more money from advertising and sponsors by showing a game involving better-supported sides and paying facility fees to the teams that missed out as well as those involved.

These figures are only going to continue to rise and it will only be a matter of time before broadcasters pay over £1 billion for one season of Premier League rights, which is an astronomical amount of money, even in sport. The chart below shows how much money each team made from broadcasting rights last season: Premier League amounts by team

As a rule here, the amount earned by a team is directly proportional to their league position; the higher up they finish, the more money they receive. There are odd exceptions, like Newcastle United finishing 16th but having the 13th highest income, but this is likely because of their 5th-place finish the season before. On top of being one of the most well-supported clubs in England, broadcasters will have hoped they could have had another similar season so they could be shown on TV more. The Magpies ended up being shown on Sky Sports 16 times last season, the 6th most in the league.

Infogram sources

Premier League:

FA Cup:

Champions League:

Football League:


Foreign Owners – The Abramovich Effect


Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
Image courtesy of Mark Freeman

When Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003, no one could have predicted the influence it would have over the next 10 years. The Blues spent big in the very next transfer window, spending an unprecedented £121 million, and won the Premier League for the first time in their history the next season before winning it again a year later.

After the success of Abramovich’s investment, many other businessmen started to buy, or bought more, shares of clubs. Some of the more high-profile takeovers included Malcolm Glazer buying Manchester UnitedTom Hicks and George Gillett buying Liverpool (who sold to John W. Henry, founder of Fenway Sports Group, just three years later in another well-publicised move), and Randy Lerner buying Aston Villa.

As it stands, 11 clubs in England’s top flight are majority owned by foreign investors, with another 15 clubs in the Football League also being having foreign owners. 13 of these are in The Championship and five of those have been in the Premier League under their current owners.

Whilst not all of these moves have brought success to the clubs, it definitely increased the already huge profile of the Premier League exponentially. It also contributed to making English sides more competitive in European competition, with a minimum of one Premier League side making it to the Champions League semi-finals eight times in nine years. Three of those sides went on to win the tournament and five were losing finalists. Not all of these sides had foreign owners, but the influx of them in the Premier League meant other teams had to adapt, usually by changing their playing style to make it more effective against bigger clubs.

At the time, Chelsea were accused of “buying the title” and spending excessive amounts. It could be argued that this lead to the introduction of Financial Fair Play (FFP), which UEFA introduced to regulate spending, but to squarely put the blame on Abramovich wouldn’t be fair on him, nor on other foreign owners who bought Premier League clubs soon after.

The criticism doesn’t stop there. In 2008, much-maligned FIFA president Sepp Blatter claimed that the “economic power of football is immense” and that the investment in the sport is out of control. Richard Bevan, head of the League Managers’ Association (LMA), said in March 2012 that Chelsea had become an “embarrassment” to the Premier League after Abramovich sacked manager Andre Villas-Boas just 257 days after he took charge of the club.

In a survey by Global Sports Forum published around the same time as Bevan’s comments, it was found that similar sentiments were echoed by fans. 52% of the 3,500 fans polled said that overseas owners do not have the best interests of a club at heart, whilst 63% said they don’t want foreign owners in their domestic league.

Hull City fans would likely agree with these stories after their Egyptian owner Assem Allam said that some fans can “die as soon as they want” after they opposed his idea to rename the club Hull Tigers from Hull City. At recent home matches, fans have been holding banners saying “We are Hull City” and chanting “City till we die” in response to the proposed name change, causing Allam to make those comments. The African has already rebranded the club Hull City Tigers for trading purposes, much to the disdain of the KC Stadium faithful. He also said he would be happy to put the club up for sale if the fans wanted him out, an offer that may be taken up in the near future.

In a somewhat less controversial move, Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov, who owns 30% of the club, recently said that foreign owners are good for English football. The Russian continued by saying that investors pumping money into the British economy can only be a good thing, and that if a team is successful, then there should be no issue with foreign owners.

This may be true for clubs like Arsenal with a long history and richer investors, but with smaller clubs like Birmingham City (majority owned by Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung) and Queens Park Rangers (majority owned by Malaysian Tony Fernandes) who have suffered relegations since being bought.

To view a timeline of when Premier League sides were bought by foreign owners, click on this link.

Liverpool 2012/13 season – the final verdict

Unfathomable. That sounds like a good word to describe the 2012/13 season of the once mighty Liverpool FC. After suffering in obscurity for the past few seasons since the departure of fan favourite Rafa Benitez, the Reds look like they might be on their way back to the big-time.

The sacking of Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish was met with some disdain by the Anfield faithful, but wasn’t too surprising. Dalglish brought home the Carling Cup with a thrilling penalty shootout victory over Cardiff City, Liverpool’s first trophy since the FA Cup in 2006. He also lead the team to the FA Cup final against Chelsea, however the Blues prevailed 2-1.

Unfortunately for Anfield’s favourite Scotsman, he could only guide the team into 8th position in the league, their worst finish since the 1993/94 season. This wasn’t considered good enough by owners FSG (Fenway Sports Group), and they showed Dalglish the door. Of course, minutes after the news broke that he was gone, rumours of who the new manager was going to be flew around.

Martinez. Benitez. Mourinho. Just 3 of the names tossed around on various betting websites and Twitter. Martinez, Wigan Athletic manager, was even photographed in Miami talking to FSG owner John W. Henry, sparking speculation that a deal was just around the corner. Benitez, on the other hand, had his odds down to 1/2 at one point. Soon other names began to pop up, including Van Gaal and eventual successor Brendan Rodgers.

Rodgers had guided newly-promoted Swansea City to an impressive 12th place in their debut in the Premier League, using his philosophy of passing football to play around teams they had no right to get a result from. This earned him plaudits from across the footballing world, and caused Swansea City to be hailed “the next Barcelona” by many pundits.

In June 2012, Rodgers was officially hired by Liverpool. The response from fans was mixed, to say the least. Some fans were happy at the appointment, hoping a young manager would be able to create a legacy at the club, in the same way Ferguson did at Man United, or Paisley did at Liverpool. Some fans were sceptical, hoping that a new manager would get them back to the big time, but also wary of his lack of managing experience.

Other fans, safe to say, were not happy. They thought his season at Swansea was a fluke and that his age would mean he wouldn’t be able to gain respect from players, in the same way that Andre Villas-Boas had failed to garner any during his short tenure at Chelsea.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at how the season panned out for Liverpool FC.

When I look back to the first 5 games of the season, only one word springs to mind: poor. All the positive energy surrounding the appointment of Rodgers was duly wiped away with a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of a superb West Brom. This was followed up with a 2-2 draw at home to champions Manchester City, which could have been won by either side, but was a massive improvement from the Reds.

The next game was an awful 2-0 loss at home to Arsenal, and another poor performance mean they could only escape with a point at Sunderland in a 1-1 draw. Then came the big one: Manchester United at home. The game was effectively done just 39 minutes in when Jonjo Shelvey was controversially sent off for a foul on Jonny Evans. Despite falling behind, United outclassed their 10-man opponents and took all 3 points back to Old Trafford.

Finally, after 6 games, Liverpool registered a win with an excellent 5-2 win at Norwich. Carrow Road was the site of a famous Luis Suarez hat trick last season, and this time was no different as Suarez once again registered a 3 goal haul. This was the start of an 8 game unbeaten run for Liverpool, but only 3 of these were victories. Draws against Stoke, Everton, Newcastle, Chelsea and Swansea were intertwined with victories against Reading, which included Raheem Sterling’s first senior goal, and a wonderful victory against Wigan.

The run came to an abrupt end at the hands of Gareth Bale and Spurs, who beat the Reds 2-1 at White Hart Lane. The next 9 games summed up the season, and justified my “unfathomable” comment earlier. A 1-0 win against Southampton was followed up by a superb come-from-behind 3-2 victory at West Ham, in which Shelvey scored the winner playing in the ‘false 9’ role due to Suarez being suspended and Borini being injured. Liverpool then came back down to Earth with a baffling 3-1 home loss to relegation candidates Aston Villa, but restored parity with a 4-0 home victory over Fulham. The match against Fulham marked Stewart Downing’s first Premier League goal and assist for Liverpool.

Another surprising result followed, this time a 3-1 loss at Stoke, but Liverpool then recorded two Suarez-inspired back-to-back 3-0 wins over QPR and Sunderland. A controversial 2-1 win over Conference side Mansfield Town followed, with Suarez being accused of handball during the build-up to his goal. New £12 million signing Daniel Sturridge scored on his debut in that game, and then on his Premier League debut a week later in the 2-1 away loss to Manchester United.

Sturridge then became the first Liverpool player since Ray Kennedy in 1974 to score in his first 3 matches when he scored the fourth goal in a 5-0 drubbing over Norwich City. Back-to-back 2-2 draws followed, away to Manchester City and then Arsenal, both of which games could have been won. Liverpool dominated in both, but couldn’t hold on for the victory in either match. Another dominant performance against West Brom could not be turned into a victory, with Gerrard missing a penalty in a 2-0 loss.

A series of fantastic results came Liverpool’s way over the next 3 games, including their first win against a top half club in the season with a 5-0 win over a short-handed Swansea, who had more than one eye on the Capital One Cup final against Bradford City a week later. This game marked the first goal by new signing Philippe Coutinho.

Luis Suarez scored a hat trick a 2 weeks later to comfortably dispatch relegation threatened Wigan Athletic, and then a very impressive 3-2 win over Spurs followed. A 3-1 loss in their next game at Southampton proved to be the final blip in Liverpool’s season.

Liverpool got revenge at Aston Villa with a 2-1 win in the Midlands, and then a series of draws followed, including 2 0-0s at home to West Ham and away to Reading. The most controversial game of the season came next, a tasty 2-2 draw at home to Chelsea. Luis Suarez scored a 97th minute equalizer, however he probably should not have been on the pitch after he appeared to bite Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic on the arm earlier on in the game. Suarez was subsequently banned for 10 games.

With 23 goals under his belt so far in the season, there were worries that Liverpool would struggle for goals. These rumours were quickly dispelled with an outstanding 6-0 victory at Newcastle United. An entertaining 0-0 draw vs Everton meant that 6th place was all but gone, but Liverpool finished the season in fine form with a Sturridge hat trick destroying Fulham 3-1, and then a Coutinho goal gave Liverpool a 1-0 victory over relegated QPR on the final day, which was the 707th and final game of Jamie Carragher’s illustrious career.

7th place in the Premier League isn’t exactly the return that Liverpool fans wanted, but there were many positive signs that were very encouraging. The coup of Coutinho for a mere £8.5 million from Inter seems like a bargain, as he scored 3 goals and got 7 assists in just 13 games. Another signing, Daniel Sturridge, who scored 10 goals and got 5 assists in 14 games.

During 2013, Liverpool lost just 3 games. This is likely due to the signings of Sturridge and Coutinho, as well as the presence of club legends Gerrard and Carragher who really stepped up during the latter half of the season.

I think the poor showing in the first half of the season can be put down to the players still trying get used to Rodgers’ new style, and also Rodgers’ tinkering of the line up on a weekly basis meant some players were unsettled.

Despite the criticism they received after many poor showings last season, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing had fantastic seasons. Henderson bossed the midfield and showed that there is a successor to Gerrard in the midst, and Downing gave a great option on the wings with his ability to cross and cut inside at will.

Player of the Season: Luis Suarez. Quite simply brilliant in every game he played in. 23 league goals and 30 in all competitions speaks for itself. Not forgetting his 8 assists in the league, he was just inspiring in every game, and he needed to be. After loaning out Andy Carroll to West Ham and losing Fabio Borini to injury early on in the season, Suarez had to be a 20+ goal scorer to give Liverpool any chance of a respectable season.

Overall grade: B-

Started off very poorly, but an outstanding end to the season turned Liverpool from a potential laughing stock into serious top 4 contenders next season.