Sky Sports TV cameraman filming

Sometimes you see headlines reach out to one another across the page, as it were.

Today, several papers ran lead stories on Sky’s plans to revamp their Saturday show to compete with upstart rivals BT Sport.

Heyo! UK domestic TV rights, who gives a toss?

Except as I’ve pointed out in the past, the money these stations pay for in rights is essentially what fuels the financial power of the vast majority of teams currently competing in the Premier League. The Guardian has details on the tremendous sums involved:

[Sky Sports'] bold move is an attempt to spike the guns of BT Sport, which has spent £738m over three years securing the rights to 38 live matches per season.


In the face of BT’s marketing onslaught, Sky is keen to emphasise it still has vastly more Premier League matches – 116 live games for which it is paying £2.3bn over three years – and its range of live sport.

Live sporting events are television’s Alamo, the last going reason for anyone to keep appointment viewing. Premier League football is the most attractive and popular sporting event in the UK. The money it pours into football has allowed English clubs to attract some of football’s best players at ever-increasing wages and transfer fees.

Which brings us to Macclesfield, a team so strapped for cash they proposed a plan to allow anyone to pay £20,000 to play for the final ten minutes of a competitive match. The plan was scrapped when light bulbs went off at the possibility of someone trying to manipulate the match outcome for fiduciary gain.

Whether it was a publicity stunt or just a desperate idea, it’s brought media attention to the club’s plight. They require “…£100,000 by the end of August to keep them in business” according to the Guardian. In a sense, Macclesfield represent the lower league clubs that face a double jeopardy from the Premier League’s extreme financial wealth: not only are they denied a share in the enormous rights bonanza in the EPL, they also suffer from the inflationary effects from all that weight at the top.

You might fault the club for desperation, but we’re likely to see similar hi-jinks should the current financial state of affairs continue.