PETER LAWWELL reckons no TV deal would be better for Celtic than the ones currently in play in Scottish football as the damage to the game in Scotland is becoming all the more obvious.
Celtic have a large traveling support from Ireland and these supporters cannot plan ahead with any certainty when it comes to booking travel arrangements to attend games. How often have games been moved at the last minute to accommodate TV?
Another example of this happened a year ago this coming week when CQN staged our charity dinner dance at the Kerrydale Suite on a Friday evening. Celtic were away to Kilmarnock the next day and many supporters who attend as many Celtic games as possible, planned to be at both the dinner and the game.
Celtic were then informed that BT Sports had decided with very little notice to move the match to the Friday night, at the exact time the CQNers would be sitting done to dinner.
Big screens were organised, the match shown and Celtic won easily but the undue influence from TV companies paying a pittance is clear.
While BT and Sky are commercial broadcasters who have managed to secure deals that vastly undervalue the Scottish game, the BBC as a public broadcaster deserve particular criticism.
A generation or two ago both BBC Scotland and STV/ Grampian put Scottish football first showing much better highlights in their Sportscene and Scotsport football shows.
Crucially Sportscene was on a Saturday evening and for those not able to get to matches, especially the younger generation, this was a highlight of the week. The chance to watch your team.
School kids today are or should be in bed by the time BBC Scotland get round to showing Scottish football on their graveyard slot late on Sunday nights. They should be ashamed of themselves.
If there is a worse football show than Sportscene then I must have missed it. When you contrast and compare with their investment in English and Welsh football through Match of the Day then you really start to get annoyed.
The BBC actually pay their anchorman for Match of the Day more than they invest in Scottish football.
When Celtic played Liverpool in Dublin a year or so ago the ground was awash with red and only had pockets of green and white.
The television money – from Sky, BT and BBC – are strangling Scottish football and it really is time for something to be done about it.
Of course, it didn’t really help when you had a situation recently when the Scottish football authorities actually PAID a broadcaster (BT Sports) to show games from the lower tiers of the Scottish game.
Here’s what the Celtic Chief Executive has been saying, starting with the loss of revenue at the stadium due to changing match times due to TV scheduling demands:
Lawwell said: ‘We would like to play our games every Saturday at 3pm and forget live television.
‘People talk about enhancing the match-day experience. At 3pm on a Saturday, we’d get more people coming to our games and that money would far outweigh what we get from the (current) TV deal’,which is worth £15M a year to Scottish clubs.
On this sum Lawwell observed: ‘Unfortunately, something is only worth what someone will pay you for it – and that’s the case with the TV deal.’
Well the broadcasters seemed happy enpugh to pay an astonishing £5.1billion to broadcast the English Premier League.
He continued: ‘The English Premier League is a different ball game. That’s gone beyond the valuation of football rights.
‘We’re not part of that. And the irony is that 10 per cent of the people who help fund that are Scottish subscribers.
‘Every day you turn the TV on and it’s all about the EPL. Scottish kids want Man City and Arsenal strips now. All the while we’re sitting with less than one per cent of the money they get.
‘Burnley could outbid us for a player now. They’ll get £100m if they are relegated this season.
‘Burnley now dwarf Celtic financially. It’s ludicrous but it’s a sign of the times.’
‘There might be more TV money going forward, depending on Hearts and Rangers coming up. It would help.
‘They have to sort themselves out. It costs us £10m a year without Rangers – if they came back up we’d progressively get that money back’ said the Celtic CEO who really should know that the Rangers that previously played in the SPL were liquidated and the re-formed club started life in the fourth tier. Therefore the club formed in 2012 have never played in the same league as Celtic.
Lawwell concluded by discussing the importance of the Champions League to Celtic: ‘But making it into the Champions League group stage is the transformer for us. Not just financially, it’s where we need to be as a club.
‘The infrastructure here is for a Champions League club. To sustain that, you have to be in there.
‘We’ve been in it seven out of the last 11 years and made the last 16 three times. We deserve pass marks for that record.’
But maybe not for your record in dealing with the Rangers scandal.