The UK government is reviewing the Premier League’s principal agreements with Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video and BBC Sport for the £4.5 billion renewal of its existing media rights deal.
The three-year extension, which runs from the 2022/23 campaign to the end of the 2024/25 season, requires the government’s approval to be rectified with the Competition Act 1998 – although the league added that it had demonstrated ‘exceptional and compelling reasons’ for its approval.
Last month, it was confirmed that the Premier League was in discussion with its broadcast partners to scrap the tender process in favour of the private sale of the media rights to avoid a significant dip in value amid the pandemic. Analysts had estimated that the next cycle could fall anywhere in the region of £500 million to £900 million.
“The Premier League would like to express our gratitude to our broadcast partners for their continued commitment to the Premier League and support for the football pyramid,” said Richard Masters, the Premier League’s Chief Executive.
“We are hugely appreciative of the government agreeing in principle to allow this arrangement and for their continued support for the Premier League and the English game. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on football, and renewals with our UK broadcast partners will reduce uncertainty, generate stability and promote confidence within the football pyramid.”
Marc Allera, CEO of Consumer at BT, welcomed the announcement after enduring a turbulent year, in which the telecoms firm is currently reviewing the sale of its sports broadcasting operation BT Sport.
He noted: “Throughout this difficult year the Premier League and broadcasters have all worked together to find pro-active solutions to ensure the Premier League, and the lower leagues, have a safe and secure way out of the pandemic. This in principle renewal of our broadcast rights is great for our viewers, but also helps to provide vital support for the broader football community that relies on the Premier League.”
“The fantastic news for our viewers is that, once the deal is concluded, they will be able to continue to enjoy the Premier League alongside the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League exclusively live on BT Sport.”
Responding to Masters’ media rights proposal, the government noted that Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was ‘inclined’ to approve the deal.
The letter, signed off by Ben Dean, Director of Sport, Gambling and Ceremonials, read: “The Government has been clear that football has the resources to support itself financially to deal with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic felt by football clubs and organisations across the English football pyramid.
“The Business Secretary and the Culture Secretary have both considered your request. The Business Secretary is currently minded to make the requested Exclusion Order in order to facilitate the Premier League fulfilling the funding commitments to the football pyramid as set out in your correspondence to DCMS of 18 March and 28 March 2021.”
Meanwhile, the league has also agreed to ‘significantly increase’ the sum of money it filters down the pyramid in return for government sign-off on the media rights extension – a decision hailed by the FA’s CEO Mark Bullingham as ‘vital’ for local and grassroots clubs.
The Premier League has pledged that the next cycle ‘will be supplemented by an additional £100 million of funding’, extending to areas of the ‘football community particularly vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19’.
Additional funding will be available to National League clubs, women’s and girls’ football, EFL League One and League Two teams, and the Football Foundation, whilst a proportion of the sum will support wider projects within the sport, such as anti-discrimination.