Some thoughts to the 70% increase in English Premier League TV income:
Our financial strategy
Stop feeling sorry for ourselves. We are not part of the easy-money league, so instead of complaining about Burnley’s financial strength, exploit the massive inefficiencies in England. Lazy recruitment strategies, unscientific risk-taking and chronic managerial processes put a lot of money on the table for those who know how to run a football club properly.
If your forward business model involves selling players, better to be close to a rich, lazy, unscientific and chronic league.
After the last increase in TV income in England was announced transfer fees appreciated markedly, even before the increase came into effect. Forgive the impersonal language, but player commodities are more valuable this week than they were last week, not just in England, but in Scotland and everywhere else.
The goalkeeper we sold for £10m last summer would command a higher fee, if we sold him next summer. A player we ‘hoped’ to earn £7m from selling should now have his target value adjusted to £10m.
More than ever, it is important to manage playing assets. Buy assets with development potential, hoard their registrations if necessary – Benfica employ and loan-out players to top leagues who would easily get into their first team. It helps build the player’s value, which helps build Benfica.
Player trading velocity
If player trading is important going forward, my hunch is that trading velocity should increase. To do this properly, it is absolutely crucial we invest more in the scouting process. Scouting and recruitment is as important to the club as tactics and team selection. Resource it accordingly.
SPFL TV deal
I’ve read lots about what we should do next in Scotland with regards to our TV deal, some ideas have merit, some not. What is perfectly clear is that the current deal is practically worthless. We must change. The potential downside is almost immaterial, as we’re starting from such a low point.
Bin SKY and BT, go it alone, or get one of the new media players involved, or better still, collaborate with the Dutch league, which has its own TV channel, have learned some lessons, have many of our challenges, and would benefit from the fresh content we could provide. There are more leagues in Europe with exactly the same challenges, if a pan-European league is a step too far, a collaborative TV infrastructure is a good start.
In football TV terms, we are the Straw Man, with nothing to lose. Lead a path away from Sky and BT, educate fans on how to link up with Virgin, Amazon or an equivalent, do something genuinely radical.
It’s a bubble. Just because the English TV market has not burst, doesn’t mean it’s not going to. Ask yourself a few questions:
Is this level of contract affordable by Sky or BT?
Will this new cash make the downside of relegation from the EPL any easier?
Will this cash make EPL clubs any more likely to change their business model, specifically, will they be more likely to spend less because they no longer fear relegation?
No, no and no. The downside of relegation from the EPL will become more onerous and clubs will fear relegation more.
Sky are enjoying enormous market power but the entrance into the market of Amazon Prime, Netflix and others, while the offerings from Virgin and BT have matured, leaves Sky open to competition in the TV and film market in the future which they have never experienced before.
You no longer need Sky to watch multi-channel TV, round-the-clock news, recent or legacy films. Their failure to maintain future Champions League rights, together with the fact that they are legislated out of the World Cup and European Championship rights, reduces their assets down to one lucrative prize: English Premier League football.
English Premier League football is the asset they are betting the farm on. They need this and as long as the ‘farm’ exists in the form of a nation uniformly consuming TV through them, they will pay whatever they can to retain these rights.
BT are in the process of buying market share. They are vastly better funded than Sky and need a strategic place going forward (which traditionally telephony isn’t).
It’s not a case of if Sky’s ability or desire to pay changes but when. Then the bubble will burst, then football will plunge into a reverse gear.
Until then, we play the system.
Busy week for CQN11 St Patrick’s Dinner bookings (Friday 13 March, Kerrydale Suite, Celtic Park). Email me for booking details, firstname.lastname@example.org