TV Rights Are Wrong For Football

This is an article that I produced for my AS-Level English Language coursework. It’s as relevant now as it was then. 

So the Premier League season is nearly upon us, with Chelsea currently holding the trophy. The thing is, most British people cannot watch the action as it happens, seeing as though big television companies, like Sky and ESPN, get to show the most games simply because they have more money than terrestrial channels; BBC and ITV for example. 

Currently, the BBC are allowed to show highlights of Premier League matches and Football League matches, and had the capability to show 2010 World Cup matches, along with ITV, who have FA Cup and League Cup, as well as some home England international matches. But is this enough? Over 65% of the British population own only Freeview channels, meaning that they do not receive the Sky channels, where most of the games are screened. This means that a lot of fans cannot watch their team’s matches, which, in many cases, will result in matches being watched on illegal websites.

   The Football Association have been questioned on this topic before. They say that, because of the money gained from Sky for the television rights, the leagues have gained financially and, in the Premier League’s case, grown to be the ‘best’ league in the world. Because of the money many smaller clubs have found it easier to cope in football without going into debt. In my opinion, however, there was nothing wrong with football before the TV rights were brought in, in 1937. The league would still be widely recognised as the most exciting league in the world.
   The good side to the ridiculous TV rights is that the Premier League is now watched worldwide. Players, teams and managers are seen in many other countries, promoting football all over the world and giving the bigger teams the chance to sell merchandise all over the world. For instance, Manchester United are not only the most well-supported team in Britain, but also the most well-supported team abroad, especially in Asia, where they go on a tour often and play in front of huge crowds.
   However, this doesn’t change the fact that people in Britain cannot watch British football. Everyone in Britain should be able to watch matches that have anything to do with British football; Premier League, Champions League, internationals, FA Cup, League Cup and many others.
   Some would argue that the money being gained from Sky and ESPN is the main source for football clubs paying obscene wages and transfer fees. Too many players, especially in the Premier League, are earning well over £70,000-per-month. John Terry, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard and Didier Drogba but to name a few. And, after Cristiano Ronaldo’s disgraceful transfer to Real Madrid last summer, for a fee of £80 million, surely it is quite clear that there is too much money in football?
   Currently the Premier League is broadcast live on Sky Sports and ESPN, with the BBC getting the rights for the highlights. The Football League and League Cup are broadcast on BBC and Sky Sports. The European leagues are shown on ITV, Sky Sports and Channel Five, with international competitions, such as the World Cup and England internationals, are shown on BBC, ITV and Sky Sports.
   As you can tell, ITV and BBC have no where near as much broadcasting capability as Sky Sports and ESPN. ITV are only allowed to show home qualifiers and away friendlies. This isn’t enough. The 2012 European Championships broadcasting rights have not been agreed yet, with ITV and BBC reluctant to pay the huge prices that are being asked. This will result in Sky Sports and ESPN gaining the rights.
   This is not acceptable. The FA are simply giving the rights away for the most money. They are not thinking about fans whatsoever. Surely the job of the Football Association of a country is to make sure the fans enjoy the game as much as clubs?
   So I say that, surely, the FA need to take a serious look at themselves in terms of working for the fans. The TV rights, for all competitions, need to be changed to make it better for the fans; and for football in general. Everyone in this country should be able to watch the beautiful game, no matter how much money they possess. So what could be done? The FA cannot simply take the rights away from Sky Sports and ESPN, as this would surely force the channels to go bust. However, the FA could let the different broadcasters agree on certain games that they want to screen, so that they all get to screen games and fans with only terrestrial channels get to watch matches. Surely this is the better option?
   So, anyone from the FA that is reading this, you need to take a look at the TV rights for this glorious sport that most Britons cannot watch.

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