Asia and ME deliver 'big jumps' to EPL TV sales

The English Premier League cemented its status as the world's richest football league by selling its overseas broadcasting rights for £625 million (US$1.2 billion), more than double the previous accord. "We've seen big growth everywhere, but the really big jumps have been in Asia and the Middle East,'' Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore said. "No territories have gone down, but in some cases the rights have ended up being sold for three or four times the current amount.'' The overseas contracts are additional to the £1.7 billion pound (US$3.3 billion) deal agreed with BSkyB and Setanta last May for domestic television rights. Separate near-live, mobile and internet deals have also boosted revenues by a reported £400 pounds ($US787 million).

English clubs comprised eight of the world's top 20 by revenue in 2005, according to accountancy firm Deloitte & Touche LLP. From next season, the league's bottom team - currently Watford - will earn as much from television as the £27 million pounds fifth-placed Tottenham made in 2006, an increase of £10 million. "It means that the team at the top who got £30 million last year will get around £50 million while even those at the bottom will receive about £30 million," Scudamore said. "Big clubs in other major footballing nations such as Real Madrid might negotiate big deals for themselves, but this deal is shared across the board by all our teams."

Even before the latest agreements, the Premiership's 2005 sales of 1.97 billion euros (US$2.55 billion) were 47 percent more than Italy's Serie A. Germany's Bundesliga and La Liga in Spain are the next biggest earners. "The Premiership has won the battle,'' Nigel Currie, a director at UK. sponsorship consultant BrandRapport told Ryan Mills of Bloomberg. While next season's Premiership champion will make about £50 million from TV, teams in England's second-tier Championship make on average less than £2 million , about the same as top clubs in Scotland.