Sir Alex Ferguson has accused television companies of enslaving English football and argued that Premier League clubs should be given a bigger slice of revenues from overseas sales. When Manchester United face Norwich City on Saturday it will be the first game of their season when the traditional kick-off time of 3pm has not been moved to accommodate television. Every one of their away games in the Premier League has been shifted from its scheduled start time.
Although clubs like United earn around £4.3m each time their games are broadcast live, Ferguson believes television now has too much power over the fixture list. Speaking on the BBC's "North-West Tonight" programme, the Manchester United manager said: "When you shake hands with the devil you have to pay the price. Television is God at the moment. It can show itself quite clearly because when you see the fixture lists come out, they can pick and choose whenever they want the top teams on television.
"You get some ridiculous situations sometimes when you are playing on a Wednesday night in Europe and then at lunchtime the following Saturday. You ask any manager if they would pick that themselves and the answer would be: 'No chance'. You need 72 hours to prepare yourself. They (the TV companies) do not consider how well we are doing in Europe. When we played Benfica, they changed their (domestic) fixture immediately they knew it was United they were playing. The importance of doing well in Europe is greater there than it is in our country."
Ferguson also argued clubs should receive more than the £17m they are awarded annually from the sale of overseas rights. "The Premier League sells their product to 212 countries around the world," he said. "And when you think of that, I don't think we get enough money." But he had no appetite for United negotiating their own TV rights deals. "I don't think that is fair. There should be equal shares," he said.
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