BT Sport win exclusive rights to Champions League: Premier League clubs warned over effects of 'huge windfall' resulting from new deal

The divide between the top clubs and the rest is likely to widen

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The Independent Football

English clubs should be wary of the “huge windfall” from BT Sport's staggering new Champions League deal widening the gap between the biggest clubs and the rest in domestic football, a senior figure in European football has warned.

The £897million deal, running from 2015-18, should see English clubs' earnings from the Champions League increase by £15million to £20million a year. It will cover both the Champions League and Europa League, and is more than double the £400million currently paid by Sky and ITV.

Umberto Gandini, organising director of AC Milan and first vice-president of the European Clubs' Association, believes that the riches of the Champions League will now need to be spread more widely. He also sees it as an example of why there is little appetite among Europe's elite clubs for a breakaway competition.

Gandini told Press Association Sport: "This is great, great news for the Premier League clubs and if you add up the Premier League's domestic and overseas broadcasting contracts, the matchday revenues and commercial revenues then the business is looking very strong.

"But what I see as a problem is because of the great advantage the Champions League gives you in the domestic leagues, you are hearing people say you need to enlarge participation in the Champions League.

"I believe the way it is structured right now is very good and the new English contract is a great example of that, but it would be wise to address the problem of (income to) the Europa League, we have to consider that.

"We should look at the Europa League and the possibility for clubs in that competition to have a better share of the European football bonanza as an insurance policy, especially for those clubs who do not always qualify for the Champions League but has Champions League costs."

Gandini believes the impact of money from European football is likely to have an even greater effect now that UEFA's financial fair play regulations are operating, meaning clubs can no longer rely on wealthy benefactors to cover huge losses.

He admitted that the rest of Europe would be casting envious eyes at the size of the deal, and the fact that the competition for football's TV contracts in England was pushing up the value.

Gandini added: "When you look at the new Champions League deal, sometimes a business needs to over-bid to get a footprint into market so that is maybe why the numbers are so impressive.

"It will mean a huge windfall of money to the European market in general and in particular to the English clubs.

"Everyone in Europe would pray to have the same competition and new telecommunications players coming into the game."

The success of BT Sport means Sky will be even more determined to keep its Premier League rights - its current deal expires in 2016, so England's top flight is likely to maintain or even increase the value of its rights, which total a record £5.5billion over three years.

The money from the BT Sport deal will not go solely to the English clubs in Europe - 50 per cent of it will go into the whole European pot, but the increased share via the 'market pool' to the English sides will be significant.

Speculation surrounding a possible breakaway competition has continued despite the Champions League's success, but Gandini believes such a demonstration of the value of Europe's top club competition should stand as a reason to retain the current format.

He said: "I honestly think it is a massive, outstanding competition which has had extraordinary results and at the moment, for those who are privileged to play (in it), there is no need to look at alternatives."