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Premier League ‘big six’ push back against new TV plans

The Premier League has been in constant dialogue with broadcasters with options such as live footage from dressing rooms being discussed as ways to improve the product when the season returns

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Wednesday 20 May 2020 12:42 BST
Coronavirus: How has sport been affected?

The Premier League’s ‘big six’ are hugely resistant to some of the competition’s new plans for broadcasting, such as dressing-room footage and mid-game interviews. While that resistance is not seen as any way prohibitive to ‘Project Restart’, it could well affect the eventual television product.

The Premier League has been in constant dialogue with broadcasters throughout the break in the season, as the prospect of having to rebate contracts hangs over all 20 clubs.

The British broadcasters are naturally willing to work with the competition, given their co-dependent relationship, and have broached potential new elements that could be explored, and long been desired. There is also a broader desire to add a bit glamour to the television product, given the possibility that empty stands could subdue the experience.

Among those ideas are live footage from dressing rooms for a minute after half-time, or from the winning team after games.

Such ideas were discussed on conference calls involving the big six, where it was stressed to them that such plans are close to non-negotiable. The clubs are, however, almost totally unwilling to go with those plans. That is based on two main arguments, both centring on what they see as the “value” of such footage.

The clubs first of all think it would be a mistake to give away such footage now, “for free”, and at a time of crisis. They believe they should be significant bargaining chips the next time the broadcasting contracts are up for renewal, especially given the widespread expectations of a long recession, and likelihood the value of the deals will come down.

They also feel offers like such ideas at that point could at least maintain the contracts at their current level.

The second argument is that those six clubs more and more see such behind-the-scenes footage as their own exclusive content, that is proving increasingly lucrative as they become “content providers” in their own right. They would not give it up willingly.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters on Monday said: “In terms of the way it is on television, I think that is going to develop. It’s only the first week, obviously. Interestingly, television viewing figures were positive.

“I think we’ll take a different approach, not better, but slightly different approach about the behind closed doors product and that was one of the things we were able to talk to clubs today, the direction of travel on.

“We have group of clubs and broadcasters together on that.”

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