Football: Premier TV row leads to lawsuit

SAM CHISHOLM and David Chance, the former Sky TV executives, are suing for breach of contract after the Premier League tried to renegotiate the terms of their appointment to handle future television deals.

The Premiership clubs were taken aback when they learned that the pair could earn about pounds 50m each from their contracts, and refused to ratify the posts. The club chairmen had alleged that they had not been fully consulted ahead of the contract with Chisholm and Chance being agreed earlier this year and the ensuing row led to the resignation of the League's chief executive, Peter Leaver, and its chairman, Sir John Quinton, who had appointed them.

Attempts to renegotiate their terms following Leaver's resignation failed, and the pair have now issued a writ against the Premier League claiming breach of contract.

At a Premier League meeting yesterday, the clubs' chairmen were determined to defend that writ. The League spokesman, Mike Lee, said: "The Premier League clubs voted unanimously today to defend the writ that we have received. There was absolute unity in agreeing the way ahead."

The League believe they have a formidable case but, if Chisholm and Chance did win in court, any compensation could be substantial. Under the contract agreed by Leaver, they were to be paid pounds 600,000 annually for three years, plus five per cent of any increase in TV income they negotiated, five per cent of any pay-per-view revenue, and 10 per cent share equity if the League floated its own TV company. Their total earnings were expected to be about pounds 50m each.

In future, TV negotiations will be handled by the new chief executive, Richard Scudamore, who will move to the Premier League from the Football League before the end of the year. The current deal netted the League about pounds 743m and runs out in the year 2001.

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