£5.1bn Premier League deal 'should result in more grassroots funding'
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£5.1bn Premier League deal 'should result in more grassroots funding'

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A number of politicians and former players have called for the English Premier League (EPL) to ensure it "gives more money back" to the sport’s grassroots and fans, following a record-breaking TV deal signed yesterday (10 February).

The league announced that it had sold domestic TV rights to Sky and BT Sport for a total of £5.1bn for the three seasons from 2016-17 to 2018-19 – marking a 70 per cent increase on the previous £3bn deal (2013-16).

Sports minister Helen Grant described the Premier League as "a great British success story" but said the TV deal should bring "increased benefits to clubs lower down the football pyramid".

Shadow sports minister, Clive Efford, added that the league’s actions would be “nothing short of criminal” if it didn’t invest more money in grassroots.

He has also accused Premier League of breaking a pledge it made on the level of investment.

“At the outset, the Premier League gave an undertaking to the government that it would put 5 per cent of TV rights into grassroots sports,” Efford said.

“But so far, that just hasn't happened."

The Premier League and FA Facilities Fund – a programme which invests in grassroots facilities and is managed by the Football Foundation – currently receives around £34m a year from the Premier League. The total is less than 1 per cent of the TV revenues it generates.

Meanwhile, former players also called on the league to “do the right thing” and make sure fans would see a benefit from the increased revenues.

Ex-Liverpool and England star Jamie Garragher tweeted: "Great day for @SkyFootball but with the amounts involved ticket pricing especially for away fans has to change."

Current England coach and former Manchester United defender Gary Neville said: “I want sensible ticket pricing and grass roots football to benefit as much as possible from this deal. Who doesn't! This is a big issue!”

In response, EPL chief executive Richard Scudamore said the league "wasn't a charity".

"We're not set up for charitable purposes," he said. "We're set up to be the best football competition."

The new TV deal confirms the Premier League’s position as the world’s most commercially successful football competition.

In 1991-92m – the season before the inception of the Premier League – top-flight clubs in England generated less than £15m in broadcast revenue. In 2013-14, the first season of the current three year cycle, the 20 top-flight clubs shared annual broadcast revenues totalling £1.5bn.

Commenting on the riches generated by the EPL, Austin Houlihan, senior manager in the Sports Business Group at analyst Deloitte, said: “With this latest round of Premier League deals we see no signs that the ‘media rights bubble’ is going to burst any time soon, as some have predicted regularly over the last 20 years.

"Top-tier domestic league football continues to be highly attractive to Pay-TV, delivering subscription-driving content through ten months of the year."

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A number of politicians and former players have called for the English Premier League (EPL) to ensure it "gives more money back" to the sport’s grassroots, following a record-breaking TV deal signed yesterday
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