Teams locked in dispute with English Football League over Sky deal

A number of Championship clubs are leading a fightback against a £595 million TV deal with Sky, claiming that they have sufficient numbers to force the English Football League (EFL) to shred the contract, which they say ‘vastly undervalues games’.

A rebellion against the deal led by prominent EFL clubs Leeds United, Derby County and Aston Villa will attempt to force the EFL board to back out of a five-year deal that undervalues games between the 72 football league sides.

The source of the issue is ongoing anger about the gulf between Premier League and Championship incomes. Derby County owner Mel Morris revealed last year that for every £1 the Premier League receives in broadcast revenues the EFL only gets five pence, meaning that teams below the Premier League receive an income of £597,000 per game compared to the £11.1 million in the top flight.

Morris argues that 25p would be a fairer ratio and points out that debt amongst the 72 clubs stands at over £1billion, with annual losses of £250 million.

A letter sent by the original 15 rebellious clubs to the EFL’s interim chairwomen has threatened ‘drastic action’ if the Football League proceed with the Sky contract.

Many of the clubs are angry about the use of Sky’s red button policy for showing midweek games, claiming that it is starting to affect attendances and season ticket sales.

They are hoping that they could revert to the old Sky deal (minus the red button) until the end of the season, whilst returning to the market in a bid to find a deal that suits the EFL clubs.

Alan Hardy, the owner of Notts County football club, said on social media: “The clubs don’t want a bigger share of the £119m at all. They aren’t greedy and fundamentally respect the lower league clubs and footballing pyramid, unlike the Premier League. Their point is £119m isn’t enough compared to the many billions the Premier League gets from TV.”

The upcoming decision from the Football League regarding the Sky contract could have massive implications for the future and could bring a wave of legal action, as football league clubs look to bring more equality into the game.

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Mohit Pasricha

Mohit Pasricha

Solicitor at Mackrell Turner Garrett
Mohit is a solicitor and Head of Sports Law at Mackrell Turner Garrett, advising and representing clients within the sports sector by providing specialist advice on a wide range of commercial, corporate and intellectual property matters. His clients include clubs, commercial sponsors, sports agents, and individual sporting professionals.