Birmingham chief slams League over TV deals

February 15, 2007

Birmingham owner David Sullivan has criticised the Football League for selling the television rights to live matches to Sky Sports 'too cheaply'.

Sullivan insists the £60,000 Blues received from Sky to show last weekend's game with Stoke, which kicked off at 11.30am on Sunday, did not even cover their costs for police and stewards required at the game.

Only 15,854 fans turned up, City's lowest gate of the season and, with the next home weekend game against Cardiff also on a Sunday - March 4 - the club are to adopt a cut-price ticket policy with season-ticket holders to try to fill St Andrews.

Sullivan said: 'Unfortunately we were locked into a price structure for the Stoke game - category A, B or C - that we set at the start of the season.

'But somehow we have to change that if we are on television. I understand where people are coming from. We have to help them.

'I will publicly state that I believe the Football League sold out their television rights far too cheaply and that they should never have sold out to Sky for the money they did.

'The compensation that Championship clubs get - £60,000 - for switching the games doesn't even cover the reduction in your gate. We, at Birmingham, don't want any Championship games on Sky.

'In the Premiership, it's big money. Then you have got the leeway to do cheaper deals for fans. The problem in the Championship is that £60,000 is a relatively small sum of money.

'We fought like mad not to have the Stoke game on a Sunday. We fought all the week previous to have it on the Saturday. Our police bill for the Sunday game was £23,000.

'That £60,000 did not cover the overall cost of the police, the turnstile operators, the stewards.'

Sullivan admitted: 'I fully accept that we have to do something to try and persuade the fans to turn up.

'That is why we are going to let all children in for £1 against Cardiff while season-ticket holders will be allowed to buy up to six tickets for family and friends for £5 each.

'We have listened to supporters. We are rewarding our season-ticket holders.'