TV deal sees tarty SPL touching its toes


Congratulations to SPL chief executive, Neil Doncaster, who delivered a remarkable increase in the league’s TV deal with Sky and ESPN; £80m for five years until 2017.  The one concession he had to trade, was the possibility that he had to subjugate the link between sporting meritocracy and the commercial imperative.

When news of the deal broke yesterday a Rangers fan was quick to suggest that Sky and ESPN would not have bid on such terms if they had any doubt Rangers would survive in the league, however, later details emerged to prove the exact opposite.  The entire deal is dependent on a clause assuring Celtic play Rangers four times each season.  If Rangers were eliminated from the league, or even if they failed to earn enough points after an administration penalty to finish in the top six after 33 games, the TV deal becomes invalid.

While this clause was crucial in Doncaster getting his deal it does nothing for the sporting integrity of the competition.  It has been five years since Rangers finished outside the top two in the league but if they go into administration, or worse, a fire sale of assets and a point deduction is likely.

The league has now introduced a contractual ceiling on whatever penalty would be applied to a financially deviant club, irrespective of the offense.  Doncaster will now also set off to find a sponsor to replace Clydesdale Bank, promising the TV exposure his deal with Sky and ESPN provides.  By extension, not only will TV income be dependent on four Celtic-Rangers games per season, so too will league sponsorship income.

Can you imagine the goings-on if Rangers enter next season in administration, with a 10-point deduction and a skeleton squad?  Beating Rangers, making it less likely for them to reach the top six, could cost each team in the league millions.  Clubs have a clear incentive to ensure Rangers are in no danger of finishing outside the top six.

Neil Doncaster, who is likely to be financially incentivised to deliver TV money, is a member of the SPL board who would decide whether or not to admit a prepack company into the league in the event of an existing club failure.  His partiality would be compromised by this deal, so too would other board members from clubs without the liquidity to cope without TV or sponsor income.

While TV broadcasters have a clear financial incentive to lobby for whatever it takes to keep Rangers buoyant, the financial incentives will touch everyone with their snout in the trough, and that includes non-TV media and referees.

This is a dreadful deal as it inserts a clause which compromises the sporting integrity of the competition.  Can you imagine giving the team talk to a club, safe from relegation, about to face a Rangers team needing a win on game 33?  What about the referee who makes a mistake in Rangers favour, late in the season, under similar circumstances?  How would Sky, ESPN and others frame the debate in the event of Rangers going into administration?

I can understand why Sky and ESPN want clause, but the rest of us might as well chuck it.

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  1. Paul 67



    We’ve sold our soul to the DEVIL’S……



    From previous thread…….



    I think that the board/CEO/absentee-landlord and, all the rest of the faceless wonders who constitute the hierarchy at CP have, indicated that they are, already thinking ahead given that they are investigating the introduction of, standing areas.



    The hierarchy know full well that, when the genie is out of the bottle about, the hierarchie’s collusion with the huns and, the possibility of….the hierarchie’s presidance over 4 iar for the huns then the SB gimmick will bite the dust once and for all!



    This would leave an embarassing amount of empty seats in the, lower level of the stadium hence the hierarchies drive for terracings at, probably £10 a skull and, a possible drive for player wage-capping to be next on the agenda ?



    Hail! Hail!

  2. Carte Blanch for cheating refs, and hacking, diving bigots.


    Whats the point of going to see a rigged game ffs.

  3. Well said Paul. Although sporting integrity has never exactly been high on Scottish football’s list.



    “What about the referee who makes a mistake in Rangers favour, late in the season, under similar circumstances?” He gets a bonus and a holiday in the sun?

  4. My take on the clause to allow 4 games between Celtic and Rangers to be televised is this. If Rangers go into Liquidation they as a club and company have gone. The contract does not state anything about Rangers Newco therefore a new negotiated dael will have to be brought in. Then is the time for Celtic to flex it’s muscles.

  5. Vmhan♣ who Supports Neil Lennon says:


    22 November, 2011 at 10:11




    I agree with you M8!



    Celtic 4-0 Pars



    Although, I think saturday’s game with St.Mirren might be one of those, nervy tight affairs!



    Hail! Hail!

  6. This deal ensuring Rangers have a place in the top league is not a shock.


    The comments on a 14 team league are obviously a way of working out Rangers are not relegated if they finish bottom this season due to a points reduction. Bring two up and no relegation. Or will this happen next season? It’s clear that they have worked things out to ensure Rangers are still in the league. If Rangers were consigned to a bottom 6 why wouldn’t they just let us play our rivals another time and everyone else would get a derby match one last time before the split. They could argue that a derby is harder than playing anyone else.


    What is being made clear is that the SPL/SFA and all other football people in Scotland have engineered things so that Rangers can’t go out of the SPL for the good of the Scottish game.



    A very cunning plan…….



    Celtic must be smart and be working behind the scenes NOW to make sure anyone breaking the rules is punished fairly and we are not at a disadvantage again as we have previously been cheated out of leagues by a non tax paying club.




  7. I can understand SKY/ESPNs position on this but this deal is an absolute farce. Even without the threat of administration there are still no guarantees in football of a team finishing above a certain position, its unlikely that we would not end up playing them 4 times a year under normal financial circumstances but its not impossible that that would not be the case.



    The way I see it there is only one way this deal is valid and that is if we get rid of the split and reduce the number of teams in the league. At least then we can guarantee we play them 4 times even if they do enter into administration and should all our prayers be answered and they go into liquidation we will be ofski to a better leauge and the deal will be dead.

  8. Vinibhoy - Named Neil Lennon on his birth certificate on

    There’s absolutely no point in continuing to play in this league.



    The sad thing is…


    If the huns are allowed to survive their years of cheating unpunished and our board allow it to happen it will be the end of Celtic, not them.



    I for one will never wear the hoops again.

  9. Should Rangers finish in the bottom 6, then I would imagine the mythical pre season friendly would take place

  10. Posted at the tail end the last thread why I don’t believe this.



    At this point in time, there is no way Neil Doncaster can have pulled off such a deal. Obviously he and Sky and ESPN have all got to big up the new deal in their joint press release, but they simply cannot have stitched the competition up to the extent you claim Paul. Otherwise they just turn Scottish football into the wrestling on ITV on seventies Saturday afternoons.



    There are far too many permutations on what might happen to Rangers between now and the end of this season for Neil Doncaster to have given the broadcasters any cast-iron guarantees.



    He can say: “All things being equal … ”, but everybody knows we are in new territory with Rangers’s future.



    In the post on the previous thread, I mentioned that wise and thoughtful observers of the whole situation (RTC, Paulie Walnuts, and I would include you too Paul 67) have admitted they do not know which way things are going to go. They have suggested that even the MBB doesn’t seem to know what he’s going to do next.



    Therefore, how can Neil Doncaster possibly know?



    It’s impossible.

  11. Philbhoy - It's just the beginning! on




    …….but the holiday might not be booked through Thomas Cook!

  12. This is frankly appalling and yet at the same time you have to look at the reality and consider that even a stripped back Rangers operating on a wage budget of £10M (I’ve gone higher than CWs £7M as I expect attendance to drop with lower quality) less than current should still on paper be capable of fielding a squad superior to every team other than Celtic. So the reality is that they’d be unlikely to finish outside the top anyway.



    One other question about the reality of this. If it comes to pass that Rangers are outside the top six. Do the clubs lose their money in the season where it happened or the following season? It can be in the season where it’s happened because SKY will have already broadcast the games and the SPL will have had no chance to sell those games. Therefore it has to be for the following season. If SKY withdraw from the contract it can be re-sold to another bidder. Who would then have the possibility of four derbies again.



    At the very worst this clause would seem to be there to present SKY with an opportunity to renegotiate the final part of the payment should Rangers end up outside the top 6.



    Perhaps it’s just in there to put in writing that SKY get all Glasgow derby games that are played in the SPL and ESPN don’t get any. Just a thought.

  13. Joe Filippis Haircut on

    Paul 67 Your post makes sad news for fairness and a level playing field now we know that Rangers have been cheating for years but the fact of the matter is we found out after the event.The new deal appears to favour Rangers in there current plight and is known before any decisions will be taken on Newco Rangers.Now anyone paying money to watch Scottish football during the time Rangers have been cheating can be forgiven as Ive said as we only found out after the event.However,it would appear that anyone following Scottish football after the new TV deal kicks in is being treated as being stupid because its biased in favour of Rangers the Celtic Board need to come out and make a statement on this deal and its implication if they remain silent we can only assume they agree with it.H.H.

  14. clanmalirtim



    That might explain why Caley Thistle voted against the deal. Maybe they see the writing on the wall and a smaller non split SPL is on the way where it doesn’t matter where the huns end they will be protected from relegation.



    We need clarification on this and quickly.

  15. I posted this a few minutes ago before Paul’s latest article;


    tomtheleedstim says:


    22 November, 2011 at 10:07


    As tempting as it is to threaten this, that and t’other about this new tv deal I think I will wait to see what the actual truth is rather than rely on the reportage so far.


    Does it really mean that neither Celtic nor Rangers can finish below the split line? Ever? Or does it mean that the amount paid is reduced on such an eventuality?


    If it can be reduced in such circumstances then surely it can be reduced further should one of the big two clubs go under or be relegated.


    I don’t know the answer to the question so will hold my powder till the details are known.


    However, I will be watching with great interest as I am sure will many others. There is a recession on alright and that goes far further than simply Scottish football clubs – it affects most of the fans as well.


    Some of us could well decide that it is not worth the expenditure if there is no real integrity in the competition.


    I would like to think we will hear something from Celtic on the matter this week, but who knows?


    Paul67 – your thoughts please!



    Paul’s new article is a sobering read indeed. If that is the case then I am genuinely finished with the game in Scotland and I have two young bhoys who are looking to carry the mantle who will likely be lost to the club.


    This would also be the case if the club were the only one who voted against this new deal because regardless of the fact that one vote against is not enough Celtic carry enough weight to stop this deal if they wanted to.



    I can see this being the worst case scenario for CFC.

  16. Paul – this is the most sobering view I’ve read on the sorry state of Scottish fotball and the absolute truth is that Rangers will not be allowed to fail – ever, period.

  17. Paul67



    I came to the same conclusion as soon as I read it this morning. As I said previously on here, how can we rely on a SPHell were a team owes £35 Million, another cannot find a buyer, a third is closing a stand and a fourth is actually knocking a stand down, to do the right thing with Newco rangers.



    I want them stripped of every title won during the tax evasion years if they are allowed to remain.



    I also see rangers starting the bidding for Jellybean early… HH



    ‘Leicester City have told Rangers they will renew in January the £7.5m offer for Croatia striker Nikica Jelavic rejected in the summer – and this time the cash-strapped Ibrox club could not afford to turn it down. (the Sun)’

  18. Philbhoy - It's just the beginning! on

    Look’s like the ba’s burst!



    Oh dear.






    We might get new members to the CQN Golf Club if nobody is going to the games.



    There could be trouble ahead………



    Hope you are well!

  19. Paul67 et al



    Am I right in assuming that this particular flatpack television deal precludes any actual reform of the SPL model itself. It was my understanding that there was insufficient support, amongst SPL clubs for a return to the ten team league, but the ‘guarantee’ of four “Old Firm” matches, all to be shown by SKY would seem to preclude any possibility of increasing the numbers above the present twelve. So much for supporters input, so much for the integrity of Chairmen arguing for greater participation in the SPL, Sky has ruled otherwise. What now for Stephen Thompson at Dundee United, and what price for Celtic?

  20. Dharma Bam 10.24



    Yep I guess the assumption is that Rangers will lose the tax case be liquidated and then protected from the usual sactions by the SPL, SKY and ESPN. Cheerled on by the other SPL sheep. Then they hunker down with a 3 year European ban and survive on slightly improved TV money until their ban ends.



    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if UEFA gave them a lifetime ban for financial impropriety (stop sniggering).



    How are the Government etc going to feel about a club being protected like this after cheating the taxman out of millions?

  21. Police have admitted one of their officers made an error by seizing a Celtic fans’ scarf during a match against Rangers at Ibrox because it had an image of the Pope on it. (the Sun)



    One Nation…




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