Rebel clubs reject shorter TV proposal from EFL in bid to prevent breakaway league
Matt Hughes, Deputy Football Correspondent
November 15 2018
The Timeshttps://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/rebe ... -3r3qz78ph
The 15 Championship clubs refusing to sign a five-year television contract with Sky Sports have rejected a compromise proposal from the EFL to sign a three-year deal instead.
In their letter to the EFL last week containing the threat to form a breakaway league, the clubs referenced the length of the proposed £590 million deal in a changing media landscape as one reason for their opposition to Sky’s offer but it appears they are unwilling to accept a shorter contract either. Some clubs are considering calling for the resignation of Shaun Harvey, the EFL chief executive, although he is believed to retain the support of the EFL board.
Following heated meetings last week, Harvey is understood to have canvassed opinion as to whether the 15 clubs would accept a three-year deal at £119 million a year and received a negative response. Sky is concerned about the ill feeling towards a package that was provisionally agreed in September last year.
The EFL is taking legal advice about the two scenarios, which, after the collapse of the compromise agreement, amount to a choice of accepting or rejecting the Sky offer before a deadline of 4pm on Monday. The 15 clubs want to reopen the tender process and appoint a task force to lead a commercial review but have yet to receive an offer from an alternative broadcaster.
Those Championship clubs have been warned that if the Sky deal is accepted and they form a breakaway league, they could lose their entitlement to play in the Carabao Cup, which accounts for 35 per cent of the £119 million on offer, and would not be guaranteed promotion to the Premier League.
Championship clubs led by Leeds and Derby threaten EFL breakaway in row over TV rights
Matt Hughes, Deputy Football Correspondent
November 14 2018
The Timeshttps://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/cham ... -zxw9tw2lc
A majority of the Championship’s 24 clubs have written to the EFL threatening to form a breakaway league if the board signs a £590 million television deal with Sky Sports for the 2019-2024 seasons.
The Times has seen documents sent by 15 clubs to Debbie Jevans, the EFL interim chairwoman, last week in which they warn of “drastic action” if their demands to reject the proposed Sky deal and return to the market are not met.
The letter makes clear that they are threatening to leave the EFL by referencing an anonymous survey of 16 clubs conducted last Tuesday in which all those present were asked whether they would be willing to “leave the EFL and form a new League, eg PL2”.
Andrea Radrizzani, the Leeds United owner, called for the creation of a Premier League 2 last month and he is understood to be the driving force behind the clubs’ rebellion alongside Mel Morris, the Derby County owner.
In a letter sent by the EFL to all the Championship clubs last Friday updating them on the situation, the extent of the threat to the existing league structure is made clear. “While the letter received from a number of clubs only referred to ‘more drastic action’ if an agreement [with Sky] was reached, it was made clear during Tuesday’s meeting that the threat of a breakaway had been discussed,” the EFL wrote.
Earlier in the week the EFL had received the letter from 15 Championship clubs containing the threat of a breakaway. The letter spelt out the clubs’ opposition to “entering into a binding multi-year agreement with Sky” and their proposal to create “a new task force comprising certain Championship club owners and/or senior executives” to pursue a new commercial strategy.
In addition to the leading duo, the 15 signatories are believed to include Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, Norwich City, Reading, Preston North End, Nottingham Forest, Middlesbrough, Swansea City and Birmingham City, with smaller clubs such as Rotherham United and Millwall siding with the EFL. Brentford are understood to be the only club of the 16 who attended the meeting not to support the threat to leave the EFL.
The Championship rebels believe that the deal on offer from Sky, which at £119 million per year is an increase on the existing contract of £88 million a season, undervalues their television rights and they want the EFL to reopen the tender process.
Such is the strength of feeling that 16 Championship clubs met in secret last Tuesday morning before a planned meeting with the EFL later that day.
The organisers of the first meeting insist that all 24 Championship clubs were invited, with some choosing not to attend, while others have claimed that they were lured to the meeting under false pretences.
“A significant number of Championship clubs who deliver the majority of the EFL TV audiences were sufficiently concerned about signing this agreement that they felt compelled to convene outside the formal meeting,” the clubs wrote to the EFL. “Furthermore, in this meeting — when surveyed anonymously — almost all attendees expressed the view that if the EFL were unwilling to give these clubs more involvement in the process of commercialising their rights, they would, in extremis, be forced to contemplate more drastic action.”
The survey contained nine multiple-choice questions, with question five asking: “If the only way to control our future direction as a league, achieve fair value for our media rights and league sponsorship deals required us to leave the EFL and form a new League, eg PL2, would you be in support?” The responses available were “a. No, we would not support a breakaway league under any circumstances” and “b. Yes, we would support a breakaway league if it was necessary/advantageous.”
Hammering home their intentions, question six asked: “If you answered no to supporting a breakaway league, but the majority of Championship clubs proceeded to create a breakaway league which adequately addressed the frustrations, concerns, media/sponsorship rights revenues and governances issues discussed, would you then change your stance?” Again the choice of answers was stark, being “a. No, we would still remain with the EFL” and “b. Yes, we would join the breakaway league if it offered better terms and conditions”.
The EFL held an emergency meeting on Monday with all the Championship clubs, which broke up without resolution. The EFL has secured an extension to its provisional agreement with Sky until next week, but the contract must be signed by 4pm on Monday, with the broadcaster understood to be concerned by the stand-off.
The EFL board has the authority to sign the contract without the support of the biggest Championship clubs, as those in League One and League Two are all in favour. While they are planning for both scenarios, they have made it clear that their preference remains to complete the deal with Sky, which was provisionally agreed in September 2017.
There is no other offer on the table from any other broadcaster. The contract is due to start next season.
The disgruntled Championship clubs have yet to contact the Premier League, who would have to endorse the creation of a PL2 and sanction promotion and relegation. The Premier League is believed to be opposed to such a project.