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How many billions? At some point, the television deals for the English Premier League become so ludicrously lucrative for the club’s enjoying their stay as part of England’s sporting elite that it becomes almost impossible to take on the sheer size of the numbers committed by television partners to the league.
Nevertheless, it is worth considering the numbers and the impact they are likely to have on the competitiveness of the Premier League as a whole and on individual teams. The new deal brings in £5.14bn, up an almost unbelievable 71% from the previous deal.
Shares in Manchester United leaped after the announcement, perhaps unsurprisingly. For the biggest clubs, it’s an unbelievable windfall with millions more guaranteed pounds flowing to their already-rich coffers.
For some, that raises the question of fairness for fans – who are paying through the nose both to watch Premier League action live and on television – and for ordinary workers at the clubs, most of whom make the tiniest fraction of the stars, executives and agents who will truly benefit from the windfall.
While unlike its counterpart in Spain, La Liga, the Premier League does redistribute its revenue relatively fairly across all its teams, the prize money for finishing near the top still means the best teams continue to benefit more, a virtuous circle for Chelsea or Manchester City – but meaning it will get harder and harder for small clubs to break through.
Meanwhile, teams scrapping at the bottom of the league or working to get promoted from the Championship to the Premier League are likely to take more and more risks and spend more and more money for the chance to be part of the elite. Gambling on success will become all the more tempting as the revenues guaranteed in the Premier League are ever greater than those in the lower divisions.
As the billions flow to clubs already rich, we can only wonder what the next television deal will bring and see if any of it does trickle down to the grassroots that really need it to grow the sport of football.