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Premier League donations up 40% after FSF protest, below 70% TV revenue rise

Football fans demonstrate against the Premier League in London, holding a banner
Football fans demonstrate against the Premier League in London, August 2014 [Credit: RonF {CC}]

Premier League raises its distribution of TV money to grassroots and lower leagues on the day of the Football Supporters Federation’s #ShareTVWealth protest, with EPL clubs making collective profit for first time in 15 years

The Premier League has said it will raise its payments to lower leagues and grassroots football from £700m to over £1bn for the next three years.

The announcement was made following a Premier League shareholders meeting in London, on the same day that consultancy Deloitte reported that Premier League clubs made a collective profit last season for the first time in 15 years.

The Football Supporters Federation (FSF) had earlier led a demonstration outside the Premier League meeting in favour of cheaper match tickets and greater support for grassroots football.

The #ShareTVWealth protest was prompted by the Premier League’s agreement of a new £5bn television rights deal in February.  Although the extra donations to football’s lower echelons amount to a 40 per cent increase, the Premier League has sold its broadcasting rights at an increase of 70 per cent.

The majority of the payments will remain tied up in parachute payments to relegated Premier League clubs. Payments to grassroots level have been well below 5 per cent of topline revenue for years and critics say the new deal has not changed this.  The Premier League disagrees, saying that a commitment to the 5 per cent figure has been made.

“In the first year of the preceding two broadcast deals, 56 per cent and 81 per cent of respective revenue growth was absorbed by wage costs. This time it is less than 20 per cent.”

Dan Jones, Deloitte

A statement on the FSF website on the day of its protest said: “We want to lobby club owners, chairman and chief executives to #ShareTVWealth – that means cheaper tickets for fans and a fairer distribution of football’s wealth throughout the Football League, non-league, and grassroots.

“Fans of all clubs must back this argument as we want to make sure everyone benefits from this huge windfall, not just top-flight players, agents and owners.”

Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, last month urged the clubs in England’s top-flight division to adjust ticket prices to ensure stadiums were full.

On the same day as the FSF protest, Deloitte reported that Premier League clubs made a collective pre-tax profit of £190m in the 2013/14 season.   The consulting firm reflected favourably that the clubs’ wages-to-revenue ratio was down from a record 71 per cent to 58 per cent and attributed the change to Europe’s still-new Financial Fair Play regulations.

Rising price of Premier League TV rights, charted on a line graph

Dan Jones, a sports business group partner at Deloitte, said in the statement: “In the first year of the preceding two broadcast deals, 56 per cent and 81 per cent of respective revenue growth was absorbed by wage costs. This time it is less than 20 per cent.”

With Premier League clubs appearing to save on wages and gain on TV revenue, there is increasing pressure to cut matchday costs for fans.

The #ShareTVWealth march is a continuation of previous pressure from the FSF and other organisations. There has been an expanding take-up by English league clubs of a reciprocal low-pricing policy, recommended by the Twenty’s Plenty for Away Tickets petition that the FSF launched two years ago.

Using the Premier League’s and the Football League’s statistics, the FSF calculates that reciprocal low-pricing saved 31,807 fans the total sum of £342,260 over 16 fixtures last season.

The Premier League also previously approved the Away Supporters Initiative in 2013, putting aside £12m for supporters over a three-year period, The scheme, which sees £200,000 given to each of the Premier League’s 20 member clubs every year for spending on its fans, is now nearing the end of its second season.

Words: Sean Gibson

First published: 26 March 2015

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