London, Oct 12: Liverpool wants the Premier League's top clubs to be allowed to emulate Barcelona and Real Madrid by selling their own overseas television rights.
The Premier League describes its TV revenue distribution system as the “most equitable of Europe's major leagues,” with each of the 20 clubs receiving 17.9 million pounds ($28 million) from overseas broadcasters last season.
But Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre believes it is unfair that high-profile clubs with a global appeal are part of a collective deal that is worth 1.4 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) under a three-year deal.
“At some point we definitely feel there has to be some rebalance because what we are actually doing is disadvantaging ourselves against other big European clubs,” Ayre said.
The domestic TV deal with Sky Sports and ESPN is weighted more in favor of the larger clubs, with part of the payment based on how many times their games are shown live in Britain.
Liverpool, which won the last of its 18 English titles in 1990, received 55 million pounds ($86 million) in total from broadcasters last season despite finishing sixth, 2 million pounds ($2 million) more than fifth-place Tottenham.
Spanish and European champion Barcelona receives around $250 million annually from broadcasters.
Ahead of Liverpool's match against Manchester United on Saturday, Ayre said “in Kuala Lumpur there isn't anyone subscribing to ESPN to watch Bolton.”
“The large majority are subscribing because they want to watch Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal,” Ayre added. “So is it right that the international rights are shared equally between all the clubs?”
But most Premier League clubs support the status quo because their revenue would drop if there was a change, which would require approval of 14 of the 20 sides.
“Do we just share ours because we'll all be nice to each other?” Ayre asked. “The whole phenomenon of the Premier League could be threatened if the Spanish clubs just get bigger and bigger and they generate more and more. Then all the players will start drifting that way.
“Will the Premier League bubble be burst because we are sticking to this equal-sharing model? It's a real debate that has to happen.”
The league released new figures Wednesday from business research consultancy SPORT+MARKT claiming that match coverage last season reached 643 million homes worldwide and 777 million viewers away from their homes.
The research projected a global following for the league of 1.46 billion, or an estimated 70 percent of football fans.
“This remarkable increase lies largely in the redistribution of international rights for the start of the new three-year broadcast term last year,” said Andrew Walsh, SPORT+MARKT's head of international affairs.
“One of the main drivers of that development was the switch of the league's broadcast rights from a Pay TV broadcaster to terrestrial coverage in China which really has burst open the floodgates in terms of the Premier League's popularity in the world's most populous and fastest-growing market.”
The research was carried out in 36 countries, surveying 1,000 people in each of those markets. AP