Ayre’s comments on TV rights goes against Shankly’s socialist ways

Comments made by Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre regarding Premier League TV rights have caused quite a stir.

Ayre has suggested that teams may wish to sell TV rights individually, as opposed to the present deal which sees the amounts spread among the whole League.

The Guardian explains the current set-up as such;

“At present, the Premier League sells domestic and overseas broadcasting rights collectively and more than doubled international revenue in its last negotiations, from £625m for 2007-10 to £1.4bn for 2010-13. With the Premier League shown in 212 countries and having 98 broadcast partners around the world, it is expected the next deal will show a similar increase, with overseas rights potentially worth more than domestic for the first time.”

Ayre commented;

“Personally I think the game-changer is going out and recognising our brand globally. Maybe the path will be individual TV rights like they do in Spain. There are so many things moving in that particular area.

“Maybe the path will be individual TV rights like they do in Spain. There are so many things moving in that particular area.

“What is absolutely certain is that, with the greatest of respect to our colleagues in the Premier League, but if you’re a Bolton fan in Bolton, then you subscribe to Sky because you want to watch Bolton. Everyone gets that. Likewise, if you’re a Liverpool fan from Liverpool, you subscribe. But if you’re in Kuala Lumpur there isn’t anyone subscribing to Astro, or ESPN to watch Bolton, or if they are it’s a very small number. Whereas the large majority are subscribing because they want to watch Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal.

“So is it right that the international rights are shared equally between all the clubs? Some people will say: ‘Well you’ve got to all be in it to make it happen.’ But isn’t it really about where the revenue is coming from, which is the broadcaster, and isn’t it really about who people want to watch on that channel? We know it is us. And others. At some point we definitely feel there has to be some rebalance on that, because what we are actually doing is disadvantaging ourselves against other big European clubs.”

While Ayre’s idea is unlikely to ever come to fruition – as 14 of the 20 Premier League sides would have to agree to it, and naturally that isn’t likely – it has caused a lot of debate, particularly among fellow football supporters.

One football blog posted overseas TV rights, showing how they increased already in the last decade;

2001-04 – domestic £1.4b, overseas £0.2b
2010-13 – domestic £2.0b, overseas £1.4b

Thus the argument is that overseas TV revenues are already growing, but at present are at least shared equally among the whole League. Obviously without the smaller ‘Boltons’ of the League as Ayre described, there is no League and thus no product.

While Barcelona and Real Madrid’s TV revenues may be much greater, look what it has done to the Spanish League. The two giants dominate in the same manner as Rangers and Celtic do in Scotland. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer and does nothing for the competition and integrity of the League.

The idea is hardly inline with Bill Shankly‘s socialist ways;

“The socialism I believe in is everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards. It’s the way I see football, the way I see life.”

  • See also: More detailed breakdown of TV rights, and comment by Guardian’s David Conn
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