Soccer clubs in £1bn media fight

England’s elite soccer clubs are facing resistance from smaller rivals to their plan to grab a bigger share of the more than £1bn (€840m) a year the Premier League gets for international media rights.

The smaller teams, seeking to maintain the current revenue-sharing agreement, are set to gather ahead of an October 4 Premier League meeting to devise a challenge against the six big clubs — Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham — according to people familiar with the situation.

Teams like Manchester City and Liverpool are arguing that their popularity helps drive international revenue, so they should get a bigger slice.

One option being considered by the Premier League, according to one of the sources, is to share the money based on how long a team has held onto a spot in the league. Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore is backing the big clubs, one source said.

Revenue sharing is on the schedule at next week’s meeting of all 20 Premier League clubs. Overseas revenue currently amounts to about £3bn-£3.5bn over three years, with the league’s domestic deal being worth £5.1bn.

The collective sharing arrangements, coupled with the enormous popularity of the Premier League, mean that even the worst-performing clubs in England’s top tier generate greater broadcast revenue than some of the most successful clubs in Europe.

For example, Sunderland last year received £93.5m after finishing 20th in the league and getting relegated. This was more than Italy’s Juventus, Germany’s Bayern Munich, or Monaco pocketed even after winning each of their respective leagues, according to Sporting Intelligence.

A representative for the Premier League declined to comment. For any rule change on revenue sharing to take effect, at least 14 clubs need to vote in favour, according to the league.

The Premier League’s international rights are offered to individual countries regularly, depending on the territory, and have so far mainly been bought by broadcasters. But with online viewing gaining popularity, streaming-service providers may compete in coming auctions.

Last week, Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said he expects technology giants such as Amazon.com and Facebook to bid for the Premier League’s next domestic contract. English clubs are hoping that interest from players other than BT Group and Sky will drive up the price of the rights.

Bloomberg

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