Scottish football faces ruin as Sky deal in doubt over Rangers

Jul 17, 2012

Confusion over SPL TV deal after newco Rangers forced into fourth tier

SCOTTISH football could be on the verge of financial meltdown thanks to the absence of Rangers from the Scottish Premier League after the re-formed club was forced to drop down to the fourth tier in the wake of its collapse earlier this year.

Clubs voted to force Rangers to join the Scottish Football League Third Division last week despite warnings that it would affect existing Premier League deals.

Now, according to The Guardian the division is "scrambling to salvage its financial future" after question marks were raised over its £80m TV deal with Sky, based around the Old Firm clashes between Celtic and Rangers. Some games are also shown on ESPN, but both broadcasters are now likely to want to renegotiate the deal, says the paper, "given the reduced commercial value of the SPL to them".

The Daily Telegraph says SPL chief Neil Doncaster "was unable to confirm" that Sky would still be covering Scottish football next season.

It notes that Sky agreed a new contract last November on the condition that both Rangers and Celtic were in the division, but adds that the new deal remains unsigned. The old deal, which also stipulated that there were four Old Firm derbies a year, has now expired.

"The prospect remains that [SPL] clubs may now not receive their next payment of £635,000 from the station on 6 August, an outcome which would plunge several of them into severe financial difficulties," warns the paper.

"Sky are still to state publicly their position now that four Old Firm games are no longer part of the equation," said The Scotsman.

While the Daily Record said: "It was [Doncaster’s] determination to sidestep the Sky issue that will have alarm bells ringing in boardrooms across the country."

The commercial clout of Scottish football is illustrated by the fact that the Clydesdale Bank pays just £2m a year to sponsor the SPL and has elected not to renew its deal beyond the 2012-13 season. South of the border, Barclays has extended its Premier League sponsorship to 2016 and will pay £40m-a-year.

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