Premier League executives are discussing proposals for clubs to play one match a season overseas when the international TV rights deal comes up for renewal in 2010, according to The Daily Mirror in an article entitled “United’s Friendly Match is a Taste of Things to Come.”
The reason why the Premier League is considering this revolutionary idea is because the international TV rights deal could soon be worth more than the domestic TV deal in the United Kingdom. If this does happen, which looks very probable, then the Premier League will value the international rights deal as being able to produce more revenue for its clubs.
The proposals that are being considered would schedule matches overseas beginning as soon as the 2010/2011 or 2011/2012 seasons. Clubs would play one match overseas at a pre-determined location.
It looks most likely that Asia will host most of these matches. There are massive opportunities for the Premier League and its clubs to make enormous amounts of money in Asia, particularly. Two reasons are that the current TV rights deals are severely undervalued, which means that the clubs will receive much more money when the new deals are negotiated. Plus, the sheer size of the population in Asia means that there’s a larger opportunity to win new fans over translating into shirt sales, merchandise and sponsorship deals.
My personal opinion about this is that I would love to see Premier League matches overseas, especially in the United States, but this is for purely selfish reasons. My major concern is if the Premier League moves ahead with these proposals, this will destroy a lot of what we love about the Premier League. Here’s what I would see happening as a result:
- The decision would cause a major schism between the Premier League and the fans of the twenty clubs. As a result, supporters will feel even more distanced from their clubs and you can expect to feel less atmosphere at domestic matches in the U.K.
- The gap between the Premier League clubs and Championship sides will become even greater. With more money pouring into the Premier League, there’s no way that newly promoted Championship League clubs can compete with the teams. They can’t now, but the gap would be even worse if these plans go through.
- Die-hard fans would lose faith. For many local supporters, this would be the last straw for them regarding the support of their team. If they need more proof that the game is all about money, then this is the biggest piece of evidence that could smack them in the face. I can envision irreversible damage being caused by these proposals which would hurt the hardcore fans in England. I don’t believe this would hurt attendances, however, since for most clubs there’s such a demand for tickets even at today’s high prices.
If the Premier League moves forward with these proposals, it’ll compete head-to-head with the NFL in seeing which league can generate the most amount of revenue worldwide. The NFL is currently winning the battle despite the fact that the Premier League is the world’s most popular sports league.