While it is possible for Sky to broadcast their annual allotment of 48 SPFL games into a truncated period, i.e. October 2020 to May 2021, doing so would unravel the contract. Under the current deal, negotiated while the world still had a largely functioning economy, Sky agreed to pay £666k (insert your own joke) for each live game for the next five years.
This money reflects the value Sky put on the audience and subsequent advertisers it expected to attract. As we have touched on before, just about every asset class is worth less than it was before the crisis, which includes current and anticipated advertising revenues. The size of our economy will be less going forward, which will correlate with advertising spend.
As we know to our cost, Sky pay enough money to choose when games are broadcast. They are reluctant to put Scottish games on while they simultaneously broadcast games from England. This splits their football audience and lowers the value of the product.
As it stands, there is probably no more than a 50% chance SPFL football can start season 2020-21 on time behind closed doors. There is significantly less chance of ticket income that early in the season. All of this makes next season’s Sky TV deal an absolute must for dozens of clubs across the four leagues.
For those in the bottom two leagues, £1k – £2k per week might be the difference between remaining in business in a semi-professional capacity or going bust. The £3k – £10k per week available to Championship clubs is likely to be enough for a few of them to keep their heads off the chopping block for a few painful months.
Clubs in the top flight each receive over £20k per week. That will make little difference to the likes of Hearts, where overheads are significantly higher, but it will go a long way at Hamilton and Ross County.
There is an oddity about football TV deals, they contain non-disclosure clauses. No one outside of the SPFL board is supposed to know what the terms are, outside of a few agreed facts (usually just the fee and term). The board cannot openly share details with member clubs, board members are not supposed to discuss the terms with others at their own club.
It is, therefore, likely that some clubs were unaware of the consequences they voted for when they voted against the SPFL’s resolution. The League’s executives are legally unable to articulate the dangers, although I am sure they hope indiscrete leaks serve to do the job for them. I suspect that may have happened to give Dundee pause for thought on Friday night.
If reports that Dundee are set to change their vote to Yes, the game here remains solvent in theory only for a while yet, but I’m not convinced it will make any difference to the final picture. The short list of Third Lanark, Airdrieonians, Gretna and Rangers is set to become a lot longer.
Wasn’t it great to hear Kelty Hearts manager Barry Ferguson say, “we’ll take it”, when the Lowland League ended the campaign and made them champions? None of this ‘null and void’ nonsense for Barry!