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Graham aus Liverpool

Neue Premiership TV sponsorship

Startbeitrag von Graham aus Liverpool am 22.01.2007 10:57

News not just in. Premiership clubs are to use the new £625million bonanza from foreign TV rights to lower ticket prices and slash the price of replica kits. They promise that not a dime will find its way to players or their agents.

Wakey, wakey. The coffee is brewed. Only one half of the brain wants to cheer the Premier League's latest bargaining triumph for what it might do to halt the polarisation of our highest League, which is really two divisions in one. A group of four at the top and 16 underneath.


Nowadays most managers aim no higher than the 40 points needed to survive in the land of milk and honey. Their teams tiptoe into Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge fearing annihilation. Witness the shock and delight when Blackburn Rovers actually tried to out-play Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium recently and paid for it with a 6-2 thrashing.

The Cheshire Cat of world football, the Premiership has elected to address these inequalities by edging closer to the American model, where the NFL is a laboratory of perfect communism in a free-market society.

On the gridiron, the weak are helped off the floor. Leave-no-man-behind is the mantra of a sport where the least successful teams are allowed first pick of college football talent; where there is nothing so vulgar as relegation and where the money from every Dallas Cowboys replica shirt is split 32 ways.

Genius. And it works like a dream. Here, though, we like our hierarchies. Most Premiership games are either middle-class survival scraps or David against Goliath, without the happy ending.

Not that the new audiences in the Middle East or Hong Kong seem deterred. The new deal more than doubles the Premiership's income from overseas sales and boosts its total war chest for the next three seasons to an eye-watering £2.7bn.

Bottom is the new top, because next year's wooden spoonists will go down to the Championship cradling £27m - about the sum Chelsea picked up last season for finishing top.

Already the alarms are bleeping. That £27m is a reward for mediocrity, a jackpot for failure. They used to give these teams a parachute payment to break their fall. Now they have a nice big trampoline so they can bounce straight back up.

Imagine how that looks to the grafters of the Championship. Down come a Watford or Charlton holding enough folding to buy themselves an Andrei Shevchenko. Or better, four or five £5m players to embarrass the water-carriers of the second tier.

The idea was to make the Premiership more competitive by dropping parcels from helicopters on the weaker clubs. A noble aim, surely, but not if the extra lolly disappears in wages and fees to agents.

As Richard Scudamore, the League's chief executive, was pulling yet another bunny from a hat, Middlesbrough fans were still digesting the revelation that Yakubu's move from Portsmouth cost the club £3m in commission to Pini Zahavi on top of the £7.5m transfer fee.

Meanwhile, the Football League's commendable policy of transparency in this area has furnished us with the knowledge that Championship clubs paid £6.2m to agents in the six months to Christmas - an average of £30,000 a day.

Southampton supporters brace themselves for Gareth Bale's inevitable move to a Premiership giant and ask themselves why their board handed over £842,533 to go-betweens in the most recent cycle.

Or do they? English football depends on public apathy. It prays the punters never do the sums. Throughout the present goldrush era football clubs have functioned as conduits, collecting money from the turnstiles, TV companies and megastores and obediently passing it on to players and their representatives.

Will this happen to the £625m? Don't bet too much against it. The place to be yesterday was Birmingham, Derby or any of the other clubs desperately plotting their escape from the so-called Championship (an Orwellian term to make the old Division Two feel better about itself).

In May, a lucky trio will shin up the rope on to the Premiership yacht. The rest will tread water, knowing that when three teams are thrown overboard in the spring of 2008, they will have the means to climb back on deck.

So the Premiership became less polarised on Wednesday, English football, more so. Look under your seat tomorrow to see whether your club has sellotaped a £50 refund as a celebratory thank-you. The only change we can bank on is that when players next take a pay rise or transfer fees shoot up, 208 other countries have agreed to help us with the cost.

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