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Growing discontent around Premier League chairman from top clubs

Gary Hoffman

A number of English Premier League clubs are calling for the removal of chairman Gary Hoffman.

Following the approval of the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed £305 million takeover of Newcastle United, the other 19 clubs held an extraordinary meeting in which league officials attempted to explain the decisions made. 

According to The Athletic, the takeover of Newcastle – which has been opposed by a number of clubs for reasons including how the deal passed the ‘fit and proper owners test’ – has come at a time when there is a near universal belief that change is required at an executive level.

The target of this is league chairman Gary Hoffman, who was appointed in April 2020. The executive has struggled to find popularity amongst the 20 top-flight clubs. His dealings surrounding the failed breakaway Super League and the Newcastle takeover have led to serious questions over his viability for the role in the long-term. 

Hoffman, the former CEO of Northern Rock, has been criticised for carrying a lack of ‘necessary cloud from a governance, political and communication perspective,’ The Athletic writes.

US rights

A separate report from The Athletic highlights that the EPL could be in store for a major rights valuation bump in the US.

The league has sent invitations to tender to US broadcasters for the next rights cycle, and Ampere Analysis asserts that growing popularity of English football in the US means that “A US$3 billion deal over nine years is possible.”

According to Nielsen, soccer is the fourth most-popular sport in the US behind the NFL, NBA and MLB, with its younger and more diverse set of fans considered more lucrative than its competitors. 

The US EPL rights are currently held by Comcast’s NBCUniversal, which has broadcast the league since 2013. During its first rights cycle, NBCU paid US$250 million (already triple what ESPN and Fox had paid previously) to broadcast all 380 games per season. In 2015, NBCU significantly increased its fee to US$1.1 billion in a six-year deal which expires at the end of the 2021/22 season. 

It is believed that ViacomCBS and Disney’s ESPN will both make plays for the rights, along with the incumbent holder NBCU.

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