Premier League TV rights sale to go ahead after Virgin Media bid to block it fails

The sale is expected to deliver another bumper payday for top-flight clubs

The Premier League's sale of TV rights for the 2016-19 seasons will go ahead as planned after broadcast regulator Ofcom rejected a bid from Virgin Media to halt the process.

The sale is expected to deliver another bumper payday for top-flight clubs and to be completed this month - and possibly even by the end of this week - after the Premier League sent out its invitation to tender (ITT) in December.

Ofcom is still investigating a complaint from Virgin Media about how the Premier League sells its TV rights but rejected the application to halt the sale until the investigation is completed.

A statement from Ofcom said: "Ofcom has today decided to reject the application, as it does not consider that there is an urgent need to intervene to delay the auction. "There will be a significant gap, of around 17 months, between the auction and the start of the 2016/2017 season when broadcasting of the relevant matches will commence."

The regulator did say however it could enforce action if its investigation does find fault with the league.

The statement added: "In the event that Ofcom's investigation concludes that there is an infringement, Ofcom has the necessary powers to require the Premier League and Premier League clubs to make changes to arrangements for the broadcasting of matches within the time available before the start of the relevant season.

"The investigation is ongoing and will consider the potential harm to competition and consumers arising from joint selling under the auction."

The Premier League has also confirmed to Ofcom it will put in place arrangements in any contracts with broadcasters to address any consequences if the investigation find it has breached competition rules.

Ofcom said it expects to publish a further document in March into the complaint by Virgin Media that the Premier League's joint selling means domestic consumers pay too much to watch matches on TV. The current three-year deal with Sky and BT Sport is worth just over £3billion to the Premier League clubs.

Brigitte Trafford, Virgin Media's chief corporate affairs officer, said: "We welcome Ofcom's confirmation that it can, and will, intervene after the auction if it reaches the conclusion that it needs to remedy any consumer harm. The Premier League has acknowledged this and has agreed to implement any action Ofcom may take."

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