The land of milk and honey is finally upon us in Scottish football. The kind folks at Sky have finally decided to get serious about the value of the game north of the border and “blow BT out of the water” with a “whopping” bid for exclusive TV broadcast rights totalling £33million per year.
How nice of them…
Don’t get me wrong, that amount of cash is a welcome improvement on the £21million per year the SPFL currently receives from Sky and BT for league football.
But let’s not pretend that we’ve suddenly hit the jackpot. That amount is still a long way short of what the game north of the border in Scotland should be comfortably able to attract.
Consider just two examples: Denmark and rugby – and hear me out here.
The Danish Superliga generates a TV deal worth £46million per year, and it’s a great barometer for where Scottish football could and should be as a minimum.
Denmark has a roughly comparable population of fans to work with – around 5.7 million people, compared to 5.3 million in Scotland.
The Danish top-flight contains 14 teams, with some fairly well known sides in there who’ve found themselves competing at various levels in the Champions League and the Europa League over the years: Aalborg, Copenhagen, Brondby and Midtjylland.
None of those can boast the kind of attendances you’d expect at Celtic Park or Ibrox. And in fact, only Brondby and Copenhagen had average attendances of more than ten thousand last season.
For a league that attracts on average less than six thousand punters to any given league game, £46million a year is a pretty decent chunk of cash.
Yet a country where football is watched by more people per head of population than almost anywhere else in Europe is ready to dance in the streets at the prospect of £13million a year less?
To take another example, Sky pays £40million a year of revenue in TV rights to the Rugby Super League down south – a twelve-team setup with attendances of less than nine thousand across the average season.
Sky have deep pockets – we know that, we only need to look at the fact that they’ll pay the same amount of cash for three English Premier League games as they will for an entire season if their fantastically generous new bid is accepted.
But they simply do not value Scottish football highly enough.
That’s not really a new thing, but what is even more disappointing is that they’ve supposedly “blown BT Sport out of the water” with their offer.
I think most Scottish fans would agree that BT generally make a pretty earnest effort of covering the game up here properly, devoting a decent amount of airtime to pre and post-match analysis, while also offering discussion shows and pundits that aren’t Andy Walker.
So how can it be that they somehow simultaneously view the game as less valuable than Sky Sports? If you’re still in any doubt over how indifferent the latter are to the existence of Scottish football, just bear in mind that they’re responsible for creating the televisual monstrosity that is SPFL Matters – a weekly 30-minute cringefest of Kris Commons and Kris Boyd punting Yer Da-level banter at whoever they can find still willing to talk to them inside one of the Premiership’s clubs.
Ultimately, Sky know that clubs here depend on what scraps they are fed from the football TV money table, and that we’ll more than likely take what we’re given. And in the meantime, BT Sport appear to have gone cold at the thought of paying real money for the product on offer.
But don’t let Neil Doncaster fool you in the next few weeks when he’s finished ripping Sky’s arm off in delight and painting it as a huge positive – we can, and we should be doing better than that with the product we have to offer from the top of the division all the way down.