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Are Sky Good For The Game
Are Sky Good For The Game
Thursday, 13th Jan 2005 00:00

Are Sky Good For The Game?

Many people are of the mindset that the money that they have thrown at the clubs in order to secure the rights to live television has led to an increase in greed and avarice amongst the biggest names in the game, and taken it away from it's spiritual support base with Sunday afternoon, Wednesday night or Saturday morning kick-offs.

Both the major clubs and players have benefited massively from the billions of pounds that TV rights have earned them. Manchester Uniteds profits rise year on year, top players wages spiral beyond all comparison to those who pay to watch them play. The last Sky contract has led to a financial explosion beyond anything thought possible even fifteen years ago, when John Barnes signed a ten grand a week contract with Liverpool to become Britain's highest paid player. It is easy to make the case that anything resembling fiscal reality has no place at the top tables of the Premiership. The rich become richer, and the poor stand still.

Or do they?

The news on Monday that our replay against Reading would be shown live on Sky was welcome in two ways. Firstly, a chance for us to show what may be the last cup-tie ever on the hallowed turf to the nation, and show them what we will miss from next August. The other bonus was the hefty cheque for £150,000 that will be forthcoming as a result of this decision. This cheque could make our entire season, and provide Kenny with the ammunition to bring in the players to boost our promotion push at just the right time.

Take Sky out of the equation, and the likelihood that:

A: The tie would have been shown on TV at all, given the higher drama possible at St. James' Park, and both terrestrial channels reluctance to show lower league football

B: The financial rewards for live coverage would be anything like £150k without Murdochs' millions to bump up the price

Would be far less in my opinion. Already this season several clubs in the lower leagues have benefited financially from Sky's willingness to show lower league teams playing because they operate on a subscription basis rather than ratings chasing, and their ability to show live games where terrestrial TV either could or would not. These clubs can then use this money to help secure the clubs financial future as Wrexham may be able to, or to bring in players to help realise the fans ambitions as we may.

Another worthy factor is that the increased levels of world class foreign players in the Premiership has led to talented UK produced players playing at lower levels than they previously might have. Would Trundle have been plying his trade in the bottom division before the advent of the Premiership and the explosion of foreign imports?

Every club has at one stage or another had a bite at the Sky TV cherry. For some it's a bonus, for some, salvation. For a club with realistic ambitions and a solid fanbase such as ourselves, they do far more right than wrong as far as I'm concerned. Would we really want to rely on BBC Wales or HTV for coverage of the Swans?

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