In this handout image supplied by Liverpool FC, Ian Ayre commercial director, Kenny Dalglish manager of Liverpool and Damien Comolli director of football attend a press conference as Kenny Dalglish signs a new three year deal with Liverpool FC.
Liverpool are seeking a restructuring of the Premier League's overseas television deal that would allow each club to negotiate their own contract. It's the end of the world.
Yeah, there isn't a much better way of putting this...
Liverpool have just announced their intent to shake up the Premier League in a big way by negotiating their own overseas television deal. Such a move would be completely at odds with the current revenue sharing system, which sees teams split television deals based on finishing position and be more in line with Spain's current model. Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre enthused over the club's plans:
Maybe the path will be individual TV rights like they do in Spain. There are so many things moving in that particular area.
What is absolutely certain is that, 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. Everyone gets that. Likewise, if you're a Liverpool fan from Liverpool, you subscribe. 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, Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal.
So is it right that the international rights are shared equally between all the clubs? Some people will say: 'Well you've got to all be in it to make it happen.' But isn't it really about where the revenue is coming from, which is the broadcaster, and isn't it really about who people want to watch on that channel? We know it is us. And others. At some point we definitely feel there has to be some rebalance on that, because what we are actually doing is disadvantaging ourselves against other big European clubs.
Right. You all may have noticed that La Liga clubs that aren't Real Madrid and Barcelona went on strike over this sort of thing last month, because they consider team-by-team negotiations (correctly) massively unfair. And it turns out that no matter how special your team is, it needs an opponent. If Liverpool are successful - they they could well be - this won't kill league parity (league parity is something of a joke in the Premier League). What it will do is completely screw about half of the teams in the league.
On February 20th, 1992, the top clubs in the football league broke away to form the Premier League, offering a new era of crazy money and big names. That move has been painted as the beginning of the end of English football, and if Liverpool succeed with this little rebellion, the logical next step would be the end of the end - a pan-European 'Super' League. It's a dark day for anyone who'd like to believe in the romance of football.