Gill: No breakaway TV deal for United

January 25, 2006

Manchester United chief executive David Gill insists the Old Trafford club remain committed to the collective sale of Premier League TV rights.

With the current TV deal due to end in 2007, Gill's Premier League counterpart Richard Scudamore is faced with the tricky task of trying to maintain present funding levels in excess of £1billion despite Sky's loss of exclusivity over live games.

The European Commission have ordered Scudamore to ensure at least two broadcasters are given the rights and while it is expected Sky will still gain the vast majority, the premium they have previously paid to show them all will disappear.

Having already suffered a £6.5million loss in TV revenues from the Premier League, it was thought United would look at ways of trying to sell their games on an individual basis in order to maximise their own revenue streams.

Yet, despite the desire of new Red Devils owner Malcolm Glazer to increase profits, Gill has stated firmly there is no intention to follow the path currently being used in Italy, where clubs retain the right to sell their own games.

'As a club, Manchester United are very supportive of the collective agreement,' said Gill.

'We see it as one of the key strengths of the Premier League and we will always be a keen supporter of the concept because ultimately, we think it is of benefit to the competition.

'We have seen comments from various other leagues about their concerns over their own deals but collective bargaining is part of the agreement we have reached with the European Union over the sale of Premier League rights.'

The next TV deal will be sold in six equal packages of 23 games but to ensure Sky do not land them all, TV companies will only be allowed to submit bids for five of the packages.

BBC, Channel Four, Channel Five, NTL and Setanta have all been mentioned as potential bidders, although it is dubious whether any of these organisations has the financial muscle to outbid Sky, leaving Scudamore and his negotiating team to try and drive up the price, possibly by offering more flexibility over when games are scheduled.

Scudamore has an excellent track record in his dealings with TV companies and Gill retains total confidence in him to maintain his previous high standards.

'The Premier League is still a very attractive product,' he said.

'Yes, the exclusivity is lost but from what I understand, there are more interested parties now, which is clearly of benefit to the Premier League.

'I would not want to make a prediction of what the revenues will be, it is for Richard Scudamore to negotiate the best deal, which will then be put to the clubs.

'Richard has good advisors and he is a skilled negotiator, so we have to be positive and I am sure the clubs will eventually endorse what he has done.'