Friday 23 February 2018

Sky claims BT tried to 'muscle in'

Sky's corporate affairs chief claims it won the battle with BT Sport over Premier League rights
Sky's corporate affairs chief claims it won the battle with BT Sport over Premier League rights

Sky has claimed it won the battle over Premier League television rights after BT Sport tried to "muscle in".

The £5.136billion deal for the 2016-19 rights was announced this week with Sky paying £4.176billion for 126 matches including the new Friday night slot, while BT Sport will pay £960million for 42 games.

Sky has almost doubled its investment to retain five of the seven packages but corporate affairs director Graham McWilliam said it can absorb the costs.

McWilliam said on his Twitter account: "Only one company achieved all its objectives in auction. Post-rationalisation by the runners up can't change that!

"Twice BT tried to muscle in and take PL rights from us. Twice Sky won max no of games. Blind auctions not for faint hearted."

BT Sport took the 2015-18 Champions League rights from Sky and ITV but McWilliam said it was right to prioritise the Premier League.

He added: "Right decision for us not to chase Champ League. £300m only guarantees 26 matches with British teams. #premierleague matters more to fans."

McWilliam accepted that Sky had "paid big" for the domestic rights but said comparing the price it had paid with BT Sport did not take into account the packages his company had won.

Sky and BT Sport had paid a combined £3.01billion for the rights to the 2013-16 seasons.

McWilliam added: "Comparison of price paid ignores huge value gap. SuperSunday and MNF [Monday Night Football] are big prizes. Friday night fantastic addition to squad.

"Sky went in hard to get the result. Yes, paid big. That's what it takes. We can and will absorb it."

The Premier League has still to sell its overseas rights - the current three-year period is bringing in around £2.5billion to the top-flight clubs.

Manchester United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward warned on Thursday that the staggering 70 per cent rise in domestic Premier League TV rights may not be replicated when the international rights are sold.

BT Sport said it was pleased with the outcome of the auction.

A BT spokesperson said: "We are very pleased with the outcome and the price we paid. BT Sport has an exciting line up for football fans including the Premier League, FA Cup and all the live footballing action from the UEFA Champions and Europa Leagues starting this summer."

Press Association

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