While the Premier League is booming, with an estimated global audience of more than a billion for Saturday's showdown between Arsenal and Manchester United, the Football League is clearly also in a robust state, if yesterday's television rights announcement is anything to go by.
The Football League has more than doubled its income from broadcast rights under new deals that will see Championship games screened live on the BBC for the first time. The new agreements with Sky and the BBC, to run for three seasons from 2009-10, are worth a total of £264m compared to £112.5m for the current deal.
Under the new agreement, Sky will broadcast: 65 matches from the Football League; the play-offs, including all three finals; live matches from all rounds of the Carling Cup – two matches per round – and two legs of the semi-finals plus the final; and live matches from the Johnstone's Paint Trophy; in addition to clips and highlights from the Football League and Carling Cup.
The BBC will broadcast: 10 Championship matches, the first time the corporation has screened a league game from outside the top flight; the two legs of the Carling Cup semi-finals not covered by Sky; the Carling Cup final (simultaneously with Sky) and Football League and Carling Cup highlights.
The Football League chairman, Lord Mawhinney, said in a statement: "We are delighted to be continuing our strong partnership with Sky Sports and are excited by the prospect of working closely with the BBC.
"Over the last few years, the League's standing has been enhanced, both commercially and competitively, as we have delivered real football for real fans. Eighty-eight million pounds a year coupled with unparalleled coverage on Sky and the BBC will provide a fantastic boost to Football League clubs and their supporters."