Chisholm had pounds 2.85m pay-off from Sky

SAM CHISHOLM, the New Zealander who headed BSkyB from 1990 to 1997, received a pounds 2.85m pay-off when he finally walked away from the satellite broadcaster earlier this year, it emerged yesterday.

According to BSkyB's 1999 annual report, Mr Chisholm, who is now embroiled in a contract dispute with the Premier League, was paid pounds 2,853,815 for the early termination of his link with the company after he resigned in May. Mr Chisholm's contract was due to expire at the end of this year but was severed after he accepted a position as an adviser to the Premier League. His main task was to help to negotiate the post-2001 multi-million pound television rights deal for the football clubs.

In the annual report, the remuneration committee, which includes Rupert Murdoch, BSkyB's chairman, says: "In considering the amount that was paid [to Mr Chisholm], the Committee sought the advice of external advisers.... The Committee is of the opinion that the amount paid was fair and reasonable and adhered to good corporate practice." Including his regular payments from the company, Mr Chisholm's total pay from BSkyB came to pounds 3.38m.

David Chance, who was also appointed as a Premier League adviser to work on the television rights deal, was paid pounds 94,760 for consultancy work for BSkyB during the year under review. His total payment as a non- executive director for the year to 30 June was pounds 296,696.

The Premier League clubs have blocked the post-2001 deal negotiated by Mr Chisholm and Mr Chance, arguing that their contracts were too costly. In turn, Mr Chisholm and Mr Chance are suing the league for breach of contract. It is understood the two were set to receive a pounds 1.3m annual retainer, 5 per cent commission on any significant increase on the league's pounds 743m four-year contract, plus 5 per cent of a Premier League TV station, if one were set up.

Mark Booth, who quit as BSkyB's chief executive in May in order to run Mr Murdoch's new Internet investment venture, epartners, received a pay package worth pounds 2.14m, including a pounds 1.4m bonus. The annual report describes the bonus as awarded "in recognition of Mr Booth's role in the launch of Sky digital, the surrender of his share options and ... expenses incurred relating to installation of equipment in his home".