Premier League under pressure from broadcasters to finish season

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Premier League clubs face big pressure from TV broadcasters to finish the 2019/20 season ahead of tomorrow’s big meeting between club chiefs.

While there has been talk of TV companies possibly suing the Premier League over games that are not fulfilled, CaughtOffside understands there is a willingness from all sides to find a solution that works.

It is widely understood that there is a strong desire from the Premier League to get the season done, though there are differing views about when they should aim for that to be.

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One source close to tomorrow’s meeting told CaughtOffside to expect “no football before July”, but there have also been more optimistic murmurings of resuming playing in mid-May.

Premier League teams seem likely to at some point ease the financial pressure on themselves during these difficult times with players agreeing to take significant pay cuts.

This has already happened at several big clubs abroad, and Julian Knight MP today called on the English top flight to follow suit.

“We are facing an obscene situation where top players who aren’t working are continuing to see hundreds of thousands of pounds roll in each week while the staff who keep the clubs going are losing wages,” Knight said in a press release.

“If the Premier League isn’t going to act to resolve this crisis then the government must step in by imposing a significant financial penalty on clubs to reimburse those hit hardest in the pocket.

“That’s why I have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak today demanding that Premier League clubs do the right thing by Tuesday next week or face the consequences.”

Everyone will no doubt hope football can return as soon as possible, and Liverpool fans will be particularly keen to get the chance to see their club win what looks a likely first Premier League title if they are allowed to play out their remaining fixtures.

The good news from a Liverpool point of view is that it looks extremely complicated for the Premier League to get around their agreed contract with broadcasters.

A Force Majeure clause from a Premier League broadcast contract seen by caughtoffside suggests that the Premier League would need to create ‘alternative arrangements’ to achieve a similar outcome to that envisaged by the original requirements in order to satisfy broadcasters and that can surely only mean delivering the games at some point, with matches surely set to be played behind closed doors if the game can resume in the coming months.

It must be said, however, that it is unclear if this clause can be interpreted in such a way that covers something like the COVID-19 pandemic.