Why Liverpool’s Threat to Sell Their Own TV Rights is a Pipe Dream

Liverpool Football Club is trying to change the Premier League as we know it. The club is interested in breaking out and selling its own overseas TV rights instead of the current collective agreement by the Premier League where overseas TV revenue is equally split among all 20 clubs.

Liverpool’s intention is to generate more TV revenue by selling the rights themselves than splitting them equally among all 20 Premier League clubs. The model could be similar to Spain where Barcelona and Real Madrid garner TV rights revenue that is approximately 19 times larger than the smaller clubs in La Liga. If you thought the gap between the have and the have-nots was bad in the Premier League, it would be much worse if Liverpool’s wishes become true.

They are only wishes, though. Liverpool would have to get 14 of the 20 teams in the Premier League to agree to the change (the Premier League requires a two-thirds majority at its annual shareholders meeting next summer). And according to The Daily Mirror, Chelsea and Manchester United are not planning on backing Liverpool’s plan, so the chances of this deal happening are slim to none. And I don’t see the deal happening anytime soon either. Consider this: What would it take to get 14 of the 20 Premier League teams to agree to a deal like this? It’s not going to happen anytime soon unless Liverpool, or someone else, can convince the clubs lower down in the Premier League that they’ll make more money.

And right now, it’s all about Liverpool FC and no one else. Liverpool Football Club is just being greedy. They know they have a massive international following so they want to find ways to sell their own rights and generate more revenue for the club so they can better compete against Manchester United and European clubs (if and when they get back into the Champions League again).

I wonder what Bill Shankly, the legendary Liverpool manager and a devout socialist, would think of Liverpool’s intentions.

Liverpool’s managing director Ian Ayre has an interesting argument. It’s this:

“Personally I think the game-changer is going out and recognising our brand globally…with the greatest of respect to our colleagues in the Premier League, but if you’re a Bolton fan in Bolton, then you subscribe to Sky because you want to watch Bolton….But if you’re in Kuala Lumpur there isn’t anyone subscribing to Astro, or ESPN to watch Bolton, or if they are it’s a very small number. Whereas the large majority are subscribing because they want to watch Liverpool and Manchester United…”

While I agree that most soccer fans overseas are interested in watching the Sky Six (Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham), what makes the Premier League interesting is how competitive the rest of the league is. Stoke can beat Liverpool. Blackburn can beat Arsenal. Stoke can draw Chelsea and Manchester United. Newcastle can draw Arsenal, et cetera. What we don’t want to see is the gap widening. We don’t want to see a league where only Barcelona and Real Madrid will win the league each season. We’re close to that already, but we don’t want to make it worse.

If Liverpool want to generate more TV revenue so they can better compete against other European heavyweights, they’d be better off forming an European Super League and getting it over and done with. Break away from the Premier League and get the Sky Six to join them in a new league that competes against the top teams in Europe each week. I’d much rather see that and give Liverpool what they want than to see them kill the Premier League as we know it.

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