Sunday, February 11, 2007

New Liverpool owners raise spectre of Super League..

During the press conference to announce the Liverpool takeover George Gillett made it clear that making money wasn't the number one priority, that claim sounded very good as did much of the PR offensive which followed. However, now that the dust is settling we are beginning to see more stories appearing in the press about what may lie ahead for supporters of Liverpool and for the English game at large...

Perhaps the most interesting thing of all is the fact that Gillett and Hicks can see an end to the collective tv deal which is currently in place, indeed they are openly talking about the day when tv rights are unbundled. In fact Gillett and Hicks are talking about bundling Liverpool tv rights with their North American sports franchises "Put Liverpool together with the Stars, Rangers, Canadiens and a NASCAR team we’re buying and we can answer the needs of any potential client whether in Europe, the States or Far East. We’ll be able to show the world something new and different.” says Gillet.

Personally I believe the collective offering is the best deal for the Premiership, added to which it would take two thirds of the clubs to agree to scrap the existing contract to change it, and that would be akin to Turkey's voting for Christmas.

Scrapping the existing deal would only benefit a few clubs, most certainly United and Liverpool. Chelsea cannot even sell out their home games and so it's by no means certain there's enough demand for their own tv deal. The point being that it's highly unlikely the likes of United and Liverpool would be able to broker a deal which would satisfy the rest of the clubs and the Premiership.

What would happen if the clubs couldn't come to an agreement? Are we talking about the leading clubs forming a breakaway Super League, if so, who would be in that league?

A European super league simply would not work, and in any case it's already here in the form of the Champions League. We've been reading about the creation of a Super League for years, but no one has ever thought about asking the only people who matter - the fans, and so there's no evidence that there is any appetite for a Super League of any sort.

A smaller number of clubs in the style of the Scottish Premiership wouldn't work either, four United v Liverpool games in a season would be too many as the meaning of these heavyweight clashes would be diluted over a short period of time.

Added to which attendances across Europe are down and matches in front of half filled stadiums isn't good for the game, yet in contrast at United they sell out every home game.

Supporters of English clubs love the inter-club rivalry which has a rich history and surely only someone who doesn't understand our national game would even consider changing that. But here we are in 2007 and the two best loved clubs in the land have owners from the USA - in football terms another planet, a country where owners of clubs think nothing of moving the franchise to another state...

So for fans of English clubs we now have a potential nightmare scenario on our hands, as we have people in charge of our biggest clubs who are openly talking about bringing to an end the very thing that holds together the Premiership.

Gillett said he wasn't interested in making money as his first priority, but just a few days later it emerges that the same man is talking about 'dreaming' of the day when he can bundle Liverpool and NASCAR rights together... yes indeed folks, the world of football is well and truly on the road to nowhere if that happens.
Unbundling of the Premiership is on the cards...

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