Sky defends Premier League spend, European backlash gathers pace

Graham McWilliam

Graham McWilliam

Sky’s group director, corporate affairs, Graham McWilliam, has taken to Twitter to defend Sky’s record expenditure on Premier League rights, following its £5.14 billion (€6.9 billion) deal.

“Sky went in hard to get the result. Yes, paid big. That’s what it takes. We can and will absorb it #premierleague,” McWilliam tweeted.

McWilliam also used Twitter to argue that only Sky had achieved its objectives and that a comparison of prices paid ignored the value gap between the operator and its rivals. He said the addition of Friday night games to Sunday and Monday night football had been a huge prize for the broadcaster. 

McWilliam said the deal had given Sky Sports better match selections than before, including three quarters of first and second picks.

He also argued that Sky was right not to chase Champions League rights held by BT as a £300 million spend would only guarantee rights to 26 matches with British teams and that the Premier League mattered more to football fans.

Officials from other European football leagues have meanwhile expressed disquiet about the potential impact of the deal internationally.

Javier Tebas, the president of Spain’s La Liga, has warned that Real Madrid and Barcelona’s top players could move to English clubs as a result of the deal.

Tebas said the Sky deal represented a “serious problem” for the Spanish league and called for a switch from individual clubs negotiating their own rights packages to a system of collective bargaining.

Waldemar Kita, the president of FC Nantes, meanwhile told French sports paper L’Équipe that it would be necessary for French teams to renegotiate their TV rights with Canal+ and BeIN Sports,w hich he said had an objective interest in making Ligue 1 an attractive proposition. He said the gap between the English Premier League and other European leagues was likely to grow inexorably.

Philippe Diallo, head of French clubs union the UCPF said that average Premier League clubs would be in a position to take the best French players and that there the economic power of English Premier League clubs was “unstoppable” in a totally free market.

German Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert has said his league may have to look at fresh options to compete, such as changing kick-off times and running matches on Monday evenings. A substantial proportion of German matches are currently concentrated on Saturday afternoons.

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