Sports

Premier League crisis talks with Sky and BT Sport in bid to avoid £750m TV bill


Premier League clubs will push for crisis talks with Sky and BT Sport in the hope of avoiding a £750m bill.

They are still very much hoping to conclude the season and play their remaining fixtures to avoid having to pay back a huge chunk in broadcasting rights.

But talks among the clubs have already taken place about trying to reach agreement with the TV companies to try and work out a compromise if they have to curtail the season.

That would be the worst case scenario discussed at Friday’s Premier League meeting as it is understood that voiding the season completely is firmly off the table but the TV cash is the biggest worry of all.

But if they feel that games cannot be resumed for months to come because of the coronavirus then they may have to look at formulas to finish the season on a points per game with relegation places and European slots still to be decided.

With Liverpool so far ahead at the top, they are certain to be crowned champions in such a scenario but other outcomes would have to be decided.

Liverpool look set to be champions – but how else do you finish the season?

However, the biggest fear about curtailing the season would be the outstanding TV cash which would have to be paid back if the games are not played.

BT Sport and Sky are understood to be fairly flexible but it is the foreign broadcasters who may prove harder to convince.

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The £750m includes the foreign rights, clubs would have to pay back differing amounts depending on how many live games they had played.

The domestic rights make up just over half the TV revenue and Sky have the lion’s share so they might have to reach a compromise on around £300m.

But there is pressure on clubs and players to return to action even behind closed doors because they cannot afford to pay back all the TV cash.

When will football return?

Meanwhile, if the league does not start again until the autumn the fear is that viewers would not be interested in just nine games with the title already decided.

Starting afresh would be a better option if it was viable and if Sky and BT Sport played ball with a big new season launch.

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Coronavirus in sport

Sky are watching developments closely after Canal Plus withheld their latest payment for TV rights in France and similar happened in Denmark.

They are not at that stage yet but while the league is reluctant to get into hypotheticals it is clear that the clubs will have half an eye on the financial implications given the ongoing rows over player contracts.

The Premier League is still a huge draw and that was proved by Amazon getting a five per cent rise in subscriptions after their first round of live matches last year and that figure is a huge bump for the American giant.





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