English soccer teams express anger and 'grave concern' despite $761 million TV deal

Key Points
  • English Football League (EFL) agreed five-year £595 million ($761 million) deal to begin from August 2019
  • Twenty-four Championship clubs to receive £3 million ($3.8 million) aside from money for televised games
  • Several unnamed clubs, in which claim to have been "ignored" when (EFL) renegotiated TV deal with Sky Sports.
Sky pays $761 million for broadcast rights to English Football League — but clubs want more

Soccer clubs from England's Championship, the league immediately below the Premier League, have expressed "grave concerns" about how the English Football League (EFL) renegotiated a new multi-million pound TV deal with British broadcast partner Sky.

Despite a 35 percent increase on the previous deal, the £595 million ($761 million) agreement which is due to kick in from the start of next season and run until 2024 has not been well received by the majority of clubs.

In contrast, the Premier League domestic rights due to begin next season between Sky and BT Sport is worth £4.55 billion over three years, with a further package sold to Amazon for an undisclosed amount.

The terms of the new EFL deal were announced on Monday, leading to a meeting being between club officials the following day. Those attending were thought to include former European Cup winner Aston Villa, three-time English champions Leeds United and Derby County, currently managed by former Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard.

There then followed a statement, from "several unnamed clubs," in which said they felt they had been "ignored."

It read, "Championship clubs are gravely concerned that the EFL Board has announced it has approved a new long-term domestic broadcasting rights deal."

Even though the likes of Leeds United and Aston Villa have not played in the Premier League for several seasons, they are still amongst the best supported sides in England and regularly have fixtures moved for television coverage, which they say is to the detriment of fans.

The clubs believe the financial terms of the new deal do not adequately represent their popularity, seeing as TV proceeds are equally distributed between all teams in the 24-team league.

Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani has been outspoken of his club's treatment in the past, believing this to be another reason why the bigger clubs in the division should have been free to negotiate more bespoke deals, since their matches draw bigger television audiences.

For instance, 10 of Leeds United's 17 league games this season have been broadcast on television, while Aston Villa and Derby County's league games have been featured 7 times and 5 times, respectively.  

Caleb Ekuban of Leeds reacts to Aston Villa's first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Leeds United at Villa Park on April 13, 2018 in Birmingham, England
Michael Regan | Getty Images

Earlier in the week the EFL had agreed that these negotiations had not been without issue, but that they still offered clubs financial security.

"Concluding these negotiations has indeed been challenging, as is the case when managing a diverse group of stakeholders, and the Board took on board the comments and frustrations voiced by a number of Clubs," EFL Interim Chair Debbie Jevans commented on Monday. "The Board looks forward to continuing the excellent relationship and partnership it has with Sky Sports."

Under the deal, Sky Sports will have the right to stream midweek Championship fixtures via its interactive services.

The clubs can live-stream in the U.K. and Ireland any non-televised league match via the EFL run iFollow service, apart from those in the Saturday afternoon blackout period. The rule prevents live football being televised between 2.45 p.m. and 5.15 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon.

Leeds owner Radrizzani's Eleven Sports Network had flouted that directive earlier this season with its Italian Serie A coverage and Spanish La Liga matches, but has since relented to honor the rule.

However, this is just one way it's believed Football League clubs feel that potential revenue streams are being cut off from them and that the new deal with Sky does not reflect their best interests.

Championship clubs will receive around £3 million as part of the deal, aside from of what they get for televised games.

"The EFL board is satisfied that the right deal for the EFL and its clubs has been reached." Jevans said on Monday. No further official comment has been made since Tuesday's club statement.

Disclosure: Comcast, which owns CNBC parent NBCUniversal, is the owner of Sky.