BBC Sport chief disputes calls for greater investment in Scottish football

Barbara Slater, director of sport for UK public-service broadcaster the BBC, has rejected claims that its rights contract with the Scottish Professional Football League is under-valued.

The BBC currently invests £68m (€94.5m/$104.4m) per year in highlights rights for English football’s Premier League, far outstripping its £1m-per-year deal with the SPFL for highlights of Scottish domestic matches.

The BBC’s contract with the SPFL is currently in its final year and SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said last month that the consensus among its board was that the corporation was selling the Scottish game short when it comes to the deal.

Scottish newspaper The Herald said senior sources in the SPFL feel the BBC should be obliged to pay at least the equivalent per head of population in Scotland, which would result in a contract worth closer to £7m per year.

However, Slater has defended the BBC’s position, stating paying more wouldn’t represent good value. “That is just the law of the market,” she said, speaking in Edinburgh at a Scotland Policy Conference seminar into the future of sport in Scotland. “As you can imagine, it is absolutely the right thing for us to do, as a licence fee funded organisation, to get the best possible value rights that we can. There is a market, and it is not the BBC which dictates that.

“It was difficult and we take a lot of things into consideration when we bid for rights, one of those for instance is 'cost per viewer hour'. We look at what it costs per viewer to show them an event. Actually, even though there is a significant disparity between the rights that we may pay for one event over another, in terms of our (English) Match of the Day contract that delivers a lower 'cost per viewer hour' figure. So that has to be my answer on it.”