AHEAD OF THE GAME: BT Sport and Amazon are demanding millions from Premier League clubs due to lost revenue from the huge number of matches postponed by Covid
- Clubs are braced to lose millions in television money due to Covid cancellations
- Fourteen out of 21 matches called off due to Covid were due to be televised
- Amazon and BT Sport suffered most by the cancellations, losing six games each
- Gareth Southgate is due to visit Qatar twice for World Cup workshops
- The Premier League will not prevent Wayne Rooney from coaching Everton
Premier League clubs are set to lose millions in television revenue as a result of their insistence on postponing matches due to Covid outbreaks and injury crises, with broadcasters demanding rebates due to schedule disruption. Of the 21 matches called off to date, 14 were due to be televised live. Amazon Prime and BT Sport suffered the most in losing six games each, often at short notice.
The Premier League were forced to pay back £330million to Amazon, BT and Sky last year as a result of the three-month suspension caused by the first lockdown, as well as giving the broadcasters the right to show every game for no extra charge when football returned.
The cancellations caused by Covid outbreaks this season will lead to further refunds. While some matches have been rescheduled and televised live — such as Manchester United’s win at Brentford this week, which was shown by BT Sport — all the Premier League’s rights-holders lost significant advertising revenue due to games being postponed over the lucrative Christmas period and will demand to be compensated.
Amazon Prime’s Premier League coverage was badly hit by matches being postponed by Covid
Amazon Prime have been hit particularly hard because Premier League matches are integral to their Christmas push, yet six of their 20 live games this season did not take place. The lost matches, including Liverpool v Leeds, will eventually be shown live by Amazon when they are rescheduled, but will have less value.
Biggest rights-holder Sky, who broadcast 128 of the 200 live matches each season, have suffered the least as just two of their scheduled matches have been postponed. Sky may seek recompense for losing Sunday’s north London derby 24 hours before kick-off. That will now have to be rescheduled in a less attractive midweek slot.
SOUTHGATE OFF TO QATAR FOR WORLD CUP WORKSHOPS
England boss Gareth Southgate is due to visit Qatar twice after the World Cup draw
Gareth Southgate faces two trips to Qatar before the World Cup after FIFA delayed their workshop for coaches until summer, three months after the draw for the tournament in Doha on April 1. While not compulsory, FIFA encourage all 32 World Cup bosses to attend. They will be briefed on technical aspects of the tournament, such as refereeing interpretations and the application of VAR, as well as match-day protocols and logistics.
FIFA’s decision to delay is down to Covid disruption to qualifying. The identity of the final two qualifiers will not be known until the middle of June, when play-offs involving teams from Asia, South America, North America and Oceania take place.
PREMIER LEAGUE UNLIKELY TO THWART WAYNE
The Premier League will not prevent Wayne Rooney from becoming Everton coach if appointed
Wayne Rooney will require special dispensation from the Premier League to take the Everton job should he emerge as the club’s chosen successor to Rafael Benitez, as the Derby boss has yet to gain his UEFA Pro Licence, a requirement for working in the top flight. Rooney has begun the Pro Licence course after getting his UEFA A Licence earlier this year, so it is unlikely the Premier League would block his appointment.
QATAR’S WORLD CUP FINAL VENUE SET FOR INAUGURAL MATCH IN MARCH
FIFA are set to announce the first match to be played at the venue for the 2022 World Cup final, the Lusail Stadium near Doha, will be the final of the Amir Cup in March. The newly constructed 80,000-seater will be the last of the eight World Cup venues to be opened in a ceremony presided over by FIFA chief Gianni Infantino before the final of Qatar’s domestic cup competition.
SWINDON FIGHT OWNERSHIP RAP
Swindon have denied any guilt over a secret deal to buy a half-stake in the club, after being charged with a breach of the FA’s ownership rules. Former England midfielder Gareth Barry and his agent Michael Standing paid £800,000 for a half-stake in the club in 2013 after negotiating with former chairman Lee Power. All three have been charged by the FA over ownership rules. It is understood Swindon are claiming they should not be punished, saying they have a new owner/chairman — Australian construction magnate Clem Morfuni.