English Premier League mulls future of Russian broadcast deal

The English Premier League is yet to decide whether to back out of its upcoming rights deal in Russia.

In March, the EPL officially abandoned its €7 million per season deal with Rambler Media following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Rambler, which is operated by state-owned bank Sberbank, had a deal in place to broadcast the league via its OTT platform Okko Sport.

The league however is now facing a decision on whether to honour its significantly more lucrative deal with Gazprom Media-owned Match TV. The £43 million deal with Match TV – a channel personally opened by decree by Russian leader Vladmir Putin in 2019 – is set to start from the kick-off of the 2022-23 season in August.

The crisis was highlighted on Sunday when Manchester City won the league, and Ukrainian footballer Oleksandr Zinchenko draped his country’s flag over the trophy. He would later take to Instagram to call on sports organisations to “stop the sale of rights to broadcasts of international sporting competitions to Russian media.”

In spite of this The Athletic has reported that the league is yet to make any decision. At present there have been no moves from the league to extend its boycott of the Russian market beyond this season. 

The report notes that the EPL has not contacted Match TV to stop its games being shown on the channel, nor has it moved to reject the funding that the deal would provide. 

Speaking to the AP after winning the league, Zinchenko said: “They are surviving in my country because of Russian aggression. I’m so proud to be Ukrainian, and I would love to one day bring this title to Ukraine, for all Ukrainian people, because they deserve it.”

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