UK govt gives Premier League green light to roll over TV deal

The British government on Thursday said the English Premier League has been permitted in principle to roll over its domestic television deal for another three years due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Under normal circumstances the rights would have been contested in an open tender, but ministers said they were "minded" to grant an exclusion order.

The agreement of all the clubs and rights holders -- Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video and BBC Sport -- means the current three-year deal will be rolled over, with the new cycle running until 2025.

The existing deal is believed to be worth around £5 billion ($7 billion, 5.8 billion euros).

The renewal will cement the Premier League's status as the richest division in the world as other major European leagues have encountered problems with their own domestic rights deals.

Germany's Bundesliga had to accept a drop of 200 million euros in its new four-year deal from 2021 to 2025, which is worth 4.4 billion euros.

Ligue 1 clubs in France have faced financial turmoil this season after a new deal with Chinese-Spanish broadcaster Mediapro collapsed in its first season.

A stop-gap one-year agreement with old partner Canal+ was agreed for the remainder of this season, with some clubs' revenue from TV rights down 50 percent on the initial contract.

Streaming service DAZN has won the rights to broadcast Italy's top-flight football from 2021 to 2024 in a deal worth 2.5 billion euros.

- Premier League muscle -

The Premier League's financial advantage has begun to show on the field in recent seasons.

For the second time in three years, two English clubs will contest the Champions League final when Manchester City take on Chelsea.

Fears over the competitive balance between the English top-flight and other leagues on the continent also contributed to the failed European Super League project.

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus -- the three remaining clubs yet to withdraw from the ESL -- were seeking the certainty of guaranteed revenue and controlled costs.

The much-criticised breakaway competition would have guaranteed entry every season to 15 founder members.

As part of the agreement with the British government the Premier League will provide an extra £100 million to the football pyramid on top of its current commitment of £1.5 billion over the three-years from 2022 to 2025.

Those additional funds will go to a range of sources including lower-league clubs and women's football.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng highlighted the Premier League as one of the country's "soft power levers for the United Kingdom to attract investment" in their reasoning for allowing government approval without a competitive tender.

Dowden and Kwarteng said they would consider "any relevant representations from interested parties before a final decision is taken", with a deadline of May 28.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said the deal would provide certainty for English football as it recovers from the economic impact of the pandemic.

"We are hugely appreciative of the government agreeing in principle to allow this arrangement and for their continued support for the Premier League and the English game," Masters said in a statement.

"Covid-19 has had a significant impact on football, and renewals with our UK broadcast partners will reduce uncertainty, generate stability and promote confidence within the football pyramid.

"This will enable us to maintain and increase our existing solidarity and community financial commitments to the football pyramid for the next four years, even though we are yet to understand the full impact of the pandemic."