The English Football League’s decision to sign off on a five-season, £595m (€669m/$765m) deal with pay-television broadcaster Sky has caused deep divisions within its membership. A number of bigger clubs will meet later today to discuss their next move.
Clubs with large fanbases such as Leeds United, Aston Villa and Derby County are furious with the EFL’s board for signing the deal. They believe the EFL – which makes up the second, third and fourth tiers of English football – has undervalued the rights and restricted clubs’ ability to sell their own digital subscription packages. They also believe the five-season term is too long.
The new deal represents an increase of about 35 per cent on the league’s current deal with Sky, which was a three-plus-one season deal. It ran from 2015-16 to 2017-18, and was extended to include 2018-19. The new deal will run from 2019-20 to 2023-24.
The new deal was agreed last September, receiving notable criticism from Derby County owner Mel Morris. Morris believed the rights should have been worth about £300m per season.
At the time the deal was signed, SportBusiness Media reported that Sky attempted to force down the price of the rights if clubs wanted to stream their own matches. Sky eventually accepted the £119m-per-season price on the condition that clubs would only be able to stream matches not being broadcast live on Sky, and that Sky would also be able to stream these matches should it choose to.
The so-called ‘rebel clubs’ – Championship clubs that believe the deal should be worth more – will meet later today to discuss how they will respond, and whether they will adhere to the terms of the deal.