Arsenal

LFC: ‘Realising International Media Potential’ Or Exploiting A Fan Base?


English Premier League clubs are simply being left behind in terms of revenue by the big European giants such as Barcelona and Real Madrid. In 2006, Real signed a deal for their own domestic television rights worth an astonishing £1 billion over a seven year period.

By comparison, our 20 top flight Premier League clubs currently share out a £1.4 billion contract so it’s no wonder that the likes of Barca and Real can draw upon the phenomenal funds they do.

Liverpool’s interest in overseas rights has raised an eyebrow amongst their fellow league contenders and has certainly aroused their curiosity. If Liverpool does decide to pursue this venture, they will without doubt entice other clubs to follow suit. The Reds Managing Director Ian Ayre knows full well that Liverpool may just have to go it alone so as not to be left adrift of Barca and Real and Ayre knows the interest from European audiences is there,

“It isn’t really about where the revenue is coming from but about who people want to watch on that channel.

We know it is us and others. At some point we definitely feel there has to be some rebalance on that because we are disadvantaging ourselves against other big European clubs.”

Ayre doesn’t want the rest of the league to feel like Liverpool are deliberately rebelling from current contractual obligations but feels the move to overseas rights is an essential part of the clubs future growth and development. Liverpool have audiences in Europe who are keen to watch them week in week out and reliterates that it is likewise for several other Premiership clubs.

“What is absolutely certain is that, with the greatest of respect to our colleagues in the Premier League, if you’re a Bolton fan in Bolton, then you subscribe to Sky because you want to watch Bolton.

Everyone gets that. Likewise, if you’re a Liverpool fan from Liverpool, you subscribe. But if you’re in Kuala Lumpur there isn’t anyone subscribing to Astro or ESPN to watch Bolton.

If they are, it’s a small number. The majority are subscribing because they want to watch Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal”

We’ve seen from preseason tours that Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United have huge followings in Asia and the Far East and so the only surprise is that Premiership clubs have not cottoned onto this potential revenue before now. The Liverpool Director will be taking some pretty groundbreaking steps towards a potential overseas deal but is confident with the clubs decision to pursue the idea,

“If Real Madrid, Barcelona or other big European clubs have the opportunity to truly realise their international media value potential, why not Liverpool? 

The whole phenomenon of the Premier League should be threatened. If they [Barcelona and Madrid] just get bigger and generate more, then top players will start drifting that way. It’s a real debate that has to happen.”

It’s a valid point suggesting the lure of big wages and sponsorship deals overseas will entice the Premiership’s most elite to move abroad. If the clubs are generating such solid revenues from independent television deals then they will be far better placed to pay the wages the world’s best players command.

Some may frown upon Liverpool testing the water in this area of business because there are always risks but it looks as though they may just be on to a good thing if it pays off.

Of course you could just sit around waiting for a billionaire investor to appear with magic money…slightly more risky in comparison I would think.

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