Exclusive: Bad news for Liverpool as finance expert assesses impact of Premier League's US TV deal on COVID costs and the income gap 😬
The picture doesn't look pretty for grassroots either...
Even in the financial behemoth that is the Premier League, not all are winners.
Beyond league positions, there’s a hierarchy within a hierarchy up in the clouds away from the earth-dwellers in the form of the English top-flight’s competitors, including the likes of La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, and so on and so forth.
Up in that high-altitude kingdom, enriched by well-crafted sponsorship and TV deals, lies the pinnacle of domestic league football - certainly as far as the quality of the sport and the financing of it are concerned.
Despite the sheer wealth of the division, however, not all are equal, with the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and, now, Newcastle United, sitting pretty in their penthouse suites up in the Earth’s stratosphere.
Meanwhile, the rest of the league’s incumbents find themselves looking up enviously from their comparatively modest strata of the atmosphere.
Whilst Liverpool are hardly making their bed on the clouds, the reality of the situation is that the Reds’ finances are outstripped by those the club’s richest rivals can freely rely upon.
That having been said, being a member of arguably the most elite domestic league in world football can be more than fruitful.
With the Premier League agreeing a bumper £2 billion deal with NBC Sports lasting until 2028, questions have been raised as to the extent to which this arrangement will alleviate the financial ramifications of the global pandemic on English top-flight outfits. Not to mention whether it could help bridge the divide between the likes of Liverpool and their well-financed competition.
“The new TV deal is worth about £25m a season to leading clubs so will not replace monies lost from COVID for a few years,” finance lecturer, Kieran Maguire, exclusively told Empire of the Kop. “It won’t make any difference to the supposed income gap as money is shared between clubs so any increase will impact Chelsea etc. too.”
So not quite as impactful as many a Red might have been hoping.
Nonetheless, one might surmise that the frugality of our summer window, in which the £38m signing of Ibrahima Konate was negated by outgoings totalling at roughly £52m, will have enabled the club to be at least slightly more ambitious next year, if not in the winter window.
[The former Red Bull Leipzig defender was Liverpool’s sole senior incoming of the summer window]
As far as football below the exalted peaks of the Premier League is concerned, there have been promises made to provide greater financial support to the lower echelons of English football, including grassroots.
These deals will enable the league to invest £1.6 billion of broadcast revenue outside of the League to lower-league and non-league clubs, the grassroots game and communities; continuing the Premier League’s support for all levels of the English game,” the Premier League noted in a statement.
“It was announced earlier today that an extra £20 million will be paid to EFL League One and League Two clubs this season.
“A new package of £5 million extra will support clubs in the top-three National League divisions until 2025.”
From muddy, unkempt pitches to dilapidated stands - we’ve all seen the effects of limited funding to the lowest levels of the game.
There’s no question then that a financial boost wouldn’t be a boon to grassroots but rather a necessity.
Kieran Maguire did note, however, that the rights deal in question would be unlikely to deliver the desired impact.
“Grassroots is funded by the Football Association and potentially central government rather than the Premier League so I do not expect this to be addressed,” Maguire added.
Little in the way of luck for Liverpool and even less so for grassroots football.
With COVID-19 having particularly devastated clubs behind the golden gates of the Premier League, a case can certainly be argued for handing any potential benefit received from the latest TV deal agreed to those in desperate need of it.
That’s not to say that the pandemic hasn’t hurt clubs in the top-flight but the reality of the situation is that the monetary boost on offer can be the difference between survival and financial dehydration for those lower down the pyramid.
The Premier League may be in a position where it can pluck some of the globe’s greatest talents from its European rivals to stay relevant but with the English game continuing to demonstrate its worth to the cloud-dwellers by coughing up generational stars of the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Phil Foden, we can’t afford to remain blind to its concerns.
Whilst we’d love to see a more equal plane of competition between the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City, we can’t afford to neglect grassroots and throw the lower tiers of football a mostly depleted water sack.
Grassroots is calling for rain and it’s high time we shook some clouds.
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