Despite Mario Balotelli making the headlines today with his first Premier League goal in three years, the real news is the record Premier League TV rights deal involving Sky Sports and BT Sports.
Having secured a record £5.14bn deal to sell the rights for the world’s most popular league, Premier League chiefs will be tipping their champagne glasses in celebration.
Sky has paid £4.176bn for 126 games, which is almost double the £2.3bn they paid for 116 games per season in the last package. BT have also increased their spend by over £200m with their total deal worth an increased £2bn.
Sports Minister Helen Grant waxed lyrical about the deal describing it as a “great British success story.’’ Premier League chief Richard Scudamore echoed these sentiments.
However, short of being a success story, it is more of a horror story for many fans. The Sky era has made it more expensive to watch football on TV. Although Sky claim the package will be paid for through “efficiency savings” rather than increased subscription fees, there is bound to be a knock-on effect to the consumer.
Football's dirtiest players - the contenders
Football's dirtiest players - the contenders
1/7 Diego Costa
In addition to his two stamps against Liverpool, the Chelsea striker picked up 10 bookings in all competitions last season. For a defender that might not be a terrible record but for a striker who doesn't strictly need to make many tackles, it's shocking. The chants of 'Diego, Diego' from Chelsea fans just seem to spur him on.
The Real Madrid man has built a career on being a no-nonsense defender. When he appeared to stamp on the hand of Lionel Messi during El Classico in 2012 he took it a bit far. He didn't do his side any favours in the 2010/11 Champions League semi-final either when he managed to get sent off during their defeat to great rivals Barcelona.
3/7 Sergio Ramos
Real Madrid have not one but two contenders for dirtiest player in the land. Ramos is a great talent, no doubt about it. But he's also an absolute liability. During the course of his career he's seen a stunning 19 red cards (although he didn't get sent off at all last season). To put that in context, that's more than Roy Keane (7) and Patrick Vieira (8) saw in the Premier League combined.
4/7 Luis Suarez
The Barcelona forward picks up bookings and red cards, but he also bites opponents (as Branislav Ivanovic, Giorgio Chiellini and Otman Bakkal can testify) and flips the bird at supporters that give him stick. A real contender.
5/7 Sergio Busquets
However, Suarez might not even be the baddest man at the Nou Camp. Busquets has been a central player in Barcelona's brilliant team over recent years but whilst the rest are playing tiki-taka, the midfielder can usually be found kicking opponents in the shin. He once stood on the head of Pepe, regularly dives and was accused of calling Marcelo a "monkey".
6/7 Philippe Mexes
If Mexes already had a reputation as a bad boy on the pitch he confirmed it just this weekend when he grabbed Lazio captain Stefano Mauri by the throat, an incident that earned him a four-match ban.
7/7 Joey Barton
Whilst the QPR midfielder parades as a reformed character more interested in philosophy than fighting, there remains a sense that trouble is never far from Barton. Away from the pitch he has stubbed a cigar into the eye of a young team-mate and been sent to prison for assault and affray for an incident in Liverpool city centre. Meanwhile he's been banned numerous times for on-field offences and most notably for 12 games for a training ground incident involving Ousmane Dabo in which he left his team-mate unconscious.
The Sky Sports package isn't cheap, costing £46 per month for a 12 month contract. Fans can’t afford to go to see games, with ticket prices having risen by 1000 per cent in the last 20 years, and if these prices increase any more they soon may not be able to watch them on TV either.
The deal would be more palatable if clubs would reduce or at least freeze their ticket prices, but they won’t. Greed is unfortunately more important, and the new deal will only further perpetuate a growing corporatisation of the Premier League that has taken place since it got into bed with Sky.
Gary Lineker and Jamie Carragher have been among those arguing for cheaper ticket prices in light of this huge new deal (a deal that could be worth over £8bn when packages are sold overseas). But until that happens, it'll still cost £97 to watch Arsenal grind out a 2-1 victory over Premier League strugglers Leicester.
Nothing is likely to change other than the size of the bank balance for players, agents and Premier League executives. Fans will continue to pay the Sky high prices, and grass roots facilities will continue to be lacking. Until we see real change, where fans are put before profit, this will be the legacy of the Sky Sports Premier League era.Reuse content