Fans will be the last to gain from Premier League's 3bn jackpot
22:00 GMT, 16 June 2012
Three billion pounds is an extraordinary amount of money; too much to count and too vast to imagine.
With three billion pounds, you could make a lot of people extremely happy. As Richard Scudamore has just discovered.
When the Premier League's chief executive announced his new television deal, football's cottage industries lifted grateful glasses.
Increase: The new Premier League deal is an improvement of around 1.245bn
From cosmetic surgeons and night club owners to the champagne houses of Bollinger and Pol Roger, to the frock shops of Armani and Versace, to the estate agents of rural Cheshire, they all realised just what this meant. Business as usual.
In fact, it is considerably better than that. Three billion pounds over three years for domestic television rights is an improvement of around 1.245bn, or 70 per cent, on the current deal.
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In Scudamore's words it is 'a decent commercial increase'. But, of course, he is being clumpingly coy, like a man who wants us to know he is making A Joke.
For the sums are quite astonishing. One illustration: in 1992, when the Premier League was formed, the cost of a single, live, televised match was 633,000. Under the new deal, for a great many more games, that figure will rise to 6.5m.
It all sounds like unqualified good news, until we consider another of Scudamore's remarks: 'As ever, the security provided by broadcast revenues will enable our clubs to continue to invest in all aspects of their football activities and plan sustainably for the foreseeable future.'
And that is where we part company. You see, we know – and he also knows, although he can't say – that the notion of clubs practising sustainable planning is simply absurd.
Under the current, gargantuan deal, and on the last available figures, eight of the 20 Premier League clubs made a profit and the rest recorded losses.
One of the principal reasons for this situation, again on the last available figures, is that the average salary of a Premier League player was 1.16m per year.
Such a statistic usually provokes a grunt of disgust from those who believe that young men are fortunate to be earning money from doing something so patently pleasurable.
Yet we should remember that nobody forces clubs to pay such sums. They have opted into the rat race for all manner of reasons, among them proprietorial ego and fan pressure, and a great many have been spending money they do not possess.
Far worse than the payments to players are the payments to football agents. Premier League clubs are currently handing over something in the region of 70m a year, every year, to these unspeakable chancers. This is money which is permanently lost to the game, paid out for trite and irrelevant services on a scale which a normal industry would not contemplate. But who's counting
Champions: Manchester City were crowned Premier League winners last term
It isn't real money, it's TV money. And there's a lot more where that came from. Which is absolutely true. Even before the world television rights are auctioned, the current jackpot stands at 3bn. And will that sum promote greater prudence, self- discipline, simple commercial rigour among the clubs Will it hell.
Transfer fees will soar, players will demand and agents will plunder. Managers, too, will join the stampede, seeing no reason why they should be excluded from this new era of even greater excess.
In effect, the arsonist is being presented with the keys to the fireworks factory. Probably with similar results.
There are those who believe that the market must always rule. They will quote the words of dear old Scudamore as if he were divinely inspired. Others see it rather differently.
The monster will continue to devour its gluttonous diet
Even after 20 years, and despite its many virtues, we resent and deplore the way in which the Premier League was formed. Its founders assured us that it would assure the long-term success of the England national side. That hasn't worked out too well.
We were also told that it would prevent the major clubs forming their own, exclusive, league. The fact that only four or five clubs can even dream of winning the title rather scuppers that claim.
For injustice abounds. Where income was once fairly distributed under the old Football League, we now have a situation in which Premier League wages are now around five times greater than those of the Championship and 30 times more than the paupers of League Two.
The smaller clubs are receiving a pittance while the ultra-wealthy are being rewarded beyond measure. It is deeply offensive and thoroughly unfair.
And who is paying the price for this orgy of unreasoning largesse Need you ask Sky have enjoyed massive profits through their association with football. Those profits will grow, since prices will rise to cover their costs.
The fact that most people in this country do not subscribe to Sky is of no significance. Sky is where the money is, which is all that concerns the Premier League.
Equally, and at a time of double-dip recession, this incredible windfall could be used by the clubs to slash seat prices to bring them within the reach of lower income supporters. I doubt this has even crossed their minds.
For the monster will continue to devour its gluttonous diet. Richard Scudamore will trouser the bonus his entrepreneurial efforts have merited. And the aristocrats of English football will insist, three billion times over, that everything is just perfect in the richest league in all the world.
Sneering Keane hits wrong note yet again
Keith Andrews plays for the Republic of Ireland. He is an unremarkable footballer in a mundane football team who have just been ejected from Euro 2012.
The game which sealed their fate, against the world champions Spain, was made memorable by the Irish fans spending the last 15 minutes singing their hearts out in a long-lost cause.
Sing when you're (not) winning: Andrews praised the Ireland support
Said Andrews: 'The fans were an absolute credit to their country and, unfortunately, we were not able to give them what they deserved.' It was the gracious remark of a patently decent man.
Sadly, Roy Keane didn't see it that way. Having failed as a football manager, Keane is now a television pundit; frank, fearless and depressingly predictable.
Making his point: Keane hit out at Andrews
'It's just nonsense to say how great the supporters are,' he said. 'Let's not kid ourselves, they want to see their team winning. Let's not just go along for the sing-song now and again.'
Keane has standards, you see; fiercely uncompromising standards which lesser characters like Andrews could not begin to comprehend.
They are the kind of standards he revealed when, as the Republic's captain and most celebrated player, he took umbrage at the training arrangements and flounced out of the Irish camp before the start of the 2002 World Cup finals.
It was grotesque self-indulgence disguised as high principle and it told us everything we needed to know about Roy Keane. Keith Andrews may be an unremarkable footballer. But when it really mattered, when his country needed him, he stayed and played for Ireland. He deserves something better than the sneering contempt of the man who walked away.
Forty years on and the names roll off the tongue: Ali, Frazier, Holmes, Foreman. All products of the most dazzling era in the history of the heavyweights. And alongside them, in fighting ability and public esteem, stood an amateur boxer from Cuba.
Legend: Teofilo Stevenson died last week
Teofilo Stevenson, who died last week, won three Olympic gold medals with a right hand that could stop a train. At a time when boxing has descended to the farcical depths of Haye v Chisora, we do well to remember a hero of his country and a wonder of his age.
Our congratulations to Terry Downes, the former world middleweight champion, on his BEM in the Birthday Honours. Downes, who had a telling way with a one-liner, once emerged from a savage battle with the American Paul Pender and was interviewed by the BBC's Harry Carpenter.
'Just as well he's not a heavy puncher,' observed Carpenter. 'Is that right, Harry' replied Downes, blood oozing from his damaged nose. 'Tell you what, let him hit you, then.'