Wigan chairman Whelan attacks “greedy” Liverpool
LONDON: Liverpool’s idea of negotiating their own overseas television rights rather than be part of the Premier League’s collective selling model, would “rip the heart out of English football” Dave Whelan, the chairman of Wigan Athletic said on Thursday.
“This is the worst idea I have ever heard. If Liverpool want to ruin the Premier League and rip the heart out of English football, this is the way to go about it.
“I’m so angry, I cannot believe it,” Whelan wrote in a column in the Daily Telegraph.
He added: “This is down to one word — greed. They take, take, take. They want more and more.
“They want to take all the money for themselves, but they know the top six cannot play each other every week, so they will eventually look to Europe and the creation of a European League.”
On Wednesday Liverpool’s managing director Ian Ayre said the break-up of the established broadcasting deal for English top flight clubs is “a debate that has to happen” with the Anfield club favouring the Spanish model which allows Barcelona and Real Madrid to negotiate their own individual deals.
In England the 1.4 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) international rights deal, that covers the 2010-13 period, is shared equally between all the Premier League clubs.
Liverpool argue that if England’s biggest clubs want to compete with the likes of Real and Barcelona, they need to earn more money and the way to do that is by increasing their revenue from overseas TV deals.
Ayre said the Premier League’s four biggest global draws — Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal — deserve a bigger share, when the current deal ends in 2013, to match their global popularity.
“Personally I think the game-changer is going out and recognising our brand globally,” said Ayre.
“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?” added Ayre whose club, along with all the others in the Premier league, last season received 17.9 million pounds each from the overseas TV deal.
His comments left Whelan fuming.
“I am not speaking as the chairman of Wigan, but on behalf of English football. The reason our league is so popular is because of the excitement,” Whelan said.
“The smaller clubs cannot realistically win the title, but they can, on any given weekend, hold their own against one of the top six. If this proposal happened, the gap between the rich and poor would become even larger than it already is.
“It would wreck the game, but they don’t care about that, they care about money. I cannot see it happening. Most of the Premier League chairman think like me. We will fight this if it is proposed by Liverpool, or anyone else, we have to.”
Any change to the current collective TV arrangement — the so-called Founder Members’ Agreement — would require a proposal to be put before the Premier League and 14 of the 20 clubs voting in favour of a new commercial arrangement.
Liverpool plan to raise the issue at the next Premier League meeting, British media reported.