Scottish Premier League close to securing renewed Sky Sports deal


The Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) is close to extending its domestic broadcast partnership with Sky Sports in a £29.5 million-a-season ($50.7 million AUD) deal that will allow individual clubs to make five games a season available on a pay-per-view (PPV) basis, according to the Guardian.

Sky has been the sole broadcaster of the Scottish top-flight since the start of the 2020/21 season and previously shared the rights with BT Sport. The SPFL’s current deal is worth UK£26 million ($44.6 million AUD) a year for up to 48 games a year that lasts until 2025.

The Guardian says a new deal would see Sky allowed to show up to 60 matches each season and would be obliged to show at least 42 matchups, giving fans more chance of seeing their team on TV. Sky would also have the option of adding another 10 matches a year at a cost of UK£4 million (6.87 million AUD).

Although the SPFL and Sky Sports have been subject to criticism for their current arrangement, with some clubs feeling the rights are undervalued, the hope is that the lure of PPV matches via their own platforms will sweeten the deal.

In theory, any fixture that has not been selected by Sky as one of its featured games would be eligible for broadcast, provided it was not shown at 3pm on a Saturday. Scotland, along with England are one of two countries that impose a blackout on televised soccer when most games are taking place in order to protect attendances.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Women’s Premier League (SWPL) has announced its own improved TV deal with the BBC.

The Gaelic language BBC Alba will increase the number of live games it broadcasts from six to 26, while BBC Scotland will show an extended 45 minute highlights programme each week. It will also have the option to stream one live game each weekend.

“The ongoing partnership with both BBC ALBA and BBC Scotland will be vital in growing the game in this country in the coming years, and their long-term support of the women’s game is truly appreciated,” SWPL managing director Fiona McIntyre said in a statement.

“This significant new agreement represents the growth and ambition we have for the League. It was a really exciting opening weekend of the SWPL season, and we know that viewers will be in for a treat for the rest of the season.

“We’re delighted that we’re increasing coverage of Scottish women’s football over the next three years,” added Louise Thornton, senior head of multi-platform commissioning at BBC Scotland. “Adding more highlights and live streams will significantly enhance our offering to audiences at an exciting time for the game in Scotland. We’re looking forward to working in partnership with BBC ALBA to deliver more free-to-air coverage of the SWPL.”

Football Victoria choose INTIX as exclusive ticketing provider

Football Victoria have confirmed a new and exciting partnership with ticketing and membership company INTIX, which will commence in 2024 in time for next season.

INTIX will become the exclusive ticketing provider for all FV-managed events and will be the preferred provider for events at The Home of the Matildas.

This collaboration will also make FV’s event management more efficient and improve communication with fans and sponsors through their CRM systems.

INTIX is an Australian owned and operated company that specialise in event operations, ticketing and marketing specifically for sporting events.

The company was established in 2017 by Alex Grant with an ambitious goal to provide the best ticketing platform available to event organisers, clubs and venues.

INTIX partnered with Melbourne Victory to provide digital ticketing for all its corporate hospitality functions, and they have worked many high-scale football events.

The company also has experience in the NBL with the Tasmanian JackJumpers and in 2021 worked with AFL Victoria to supply ticketing services to metropolitan leagues and clubs.

This partnership for FV scratches the surface for what is the possibility in the future for NPL and A-League matches that have completely different systems. The expensive processing fees of Ticketek and Ticketmaster have left many fans frustrated at the process of purchasing their ticket and success with this collaboration could see INTIX expand inside the sport of football.

FV Executive Manager of Commercial, Chris Speldewinde, spoke about the improvements to matchday operations that will be made through this collaboration.

“We are thrilled to join forces with INTIX. Their state-of-the-art ticketing and CRM solutions will not only optimise our operations but also elevate our engagement with fans and sponsors. This collaboration signifies an exciting new chapter for Football Victoria,” he said in a statement.

INTIX’s advanced ticketing system will simplify the purchasing of tickets to these events and be readily available to fans online, reducing wait times to provide seamless access into events.

As the Home of the Matildas begins to stage bigger events, this partnership importantly professionalises the experience of getting to the seat and helps FV manage big crowds a lot easier.

It’s a collaboration that allows FV to focus more on strategic growth initiatives and delivering a better experience for fans and stakeholders.

Uncertainty looms around National Second Tier’s future

The highly anticipated National Second Tier (NST) in its proposed format is set to be postponed by Football Australia, with the body looking to find alternative ways to include these NPL clubs into a similar structure that would be more financially viable.

Vince Rugari of the Sydney Morning Herald broke the news on Tuesday claiming the highly ambitious second tier was likely going to be put on hold after the original plan was to have 10 to 14 foundation clubs forming a separate league, without promotion or relegation to start.

There was a very high financial threshold that the eight foundation clubs needed to reach in order to be granted a licence and unfortunately with rumours of some in the eight sceptical of its viability, other NPL clubs with a proposal in the original plan have backed away from the idea for the time being.

For what is meant to be a ‘national competition’, having clubs from NSW and Victoria only is quite restricted but the search for a financially strong club outside of the two states, willing to take that massive financial risk, is a task that is too difficult in the country’s current state of football affairs.

There has been a lack of a clear message from Football Australia across the past 12 months. The eight foundation clubs were left on standby about important information like the correct format, whether it was going to expand to 10 or 12 teams that Football Australia promised multiple times, or when the league would actually kick off in winter of 2025 or beyond that considering the shaky A-League finances being the main subject of discussion surrounding the initial success of the NSD.

After the A-Leagues controversial call to reduce initial funding of top tier clubs to $530k a year from its usual $2m a year, a properly run second division seems like a task too far down its priority list despite the positive feedback it has received from fans and clubs about implementing a ‘transformative’ system mirroring European football.

An idea being floated around as a possible solution to the unviability of a separate league is to add existing A-League teams to the ‘Champions League-style’ second division, which would essentially be a more exclusive version of the existing Australia Cup.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson told The Asian Game exclusively that “we will have a (national) second tier it will exist,” but the home and away format played during the winter is a long shot and the foundation clubs are left in limbo wondering what their immediate futures are considering the heavy financial investment they will have to make if it goes ahead.

This whole saga has been a case of Football Australia pushing away the problems that quickly arose from this ambitious idea and being too reactive when it comes to finding a solution that would be fair for the foundation clubs financially.

The NSD must wait and not force itself into a fragile Australian football landscape that has many more issues it must worry about in the top flight before building a second division that could financially damage some of the most historic clubs in Victoria and NSW.

In a world where Australian football needs authority and structure, the collapse of the original idea of the NSD proves there is a long way to go and communication towards the clubs and fans involved has to improve.

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