Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani has called on Championship clubs to reconsider the idea of Premier League 2, as he believes the share of broadcast revenues given to clubs is leading to financial struggles in the EFL’s league.
Championship clubs earn £2.5 million from their deal with Sky Sports and related commerical activities. Overall, clubs bring in £7.1m per season, which isn’t enough according to Radrizzani, who has owned Leeds for the past 18 months.
Radrizzani’s provocative statement comes 10 years after a huge row in English football between clubs and their leagues over similar proposals, but he thinks that his fellow owners are ready to dicuss Premier League 2 again, as frustrations rise over running costs in the second tier division.
“I think we should consider that a club like Leeds is watched by 500,000 or 600,000 people live on Sky and still getting only from the league only £2.5m (per year in broadcast revenue),” Radrizzani said at Leaders Sport Business Summit.
“Being on TV more than 20 times means that we should reconsider the entire system because we lose money creating a show that is of high interest to everyone. I think the other chairman would love to open a discussion, I think the time is getting close to consider how to move forward.
“To not have a crisis every two years with clubs going bankrupt or changing ownership every other year. We have not had the meeting yet. It is my idea but you should ask the other clubs. I am sure many chairman would agree.”
The EFL’s latest TV deal earns £88m-per-season which is shared between its 72 clubs, and it will rise to £120m-per-season as 38 more games a re shown in the United Kingdom from 2019-20 with the renewed five-year contract with Sky.
Radrizzani’s Leeds United are flying in the Championship this season under Marcelo Bielsa, whose attractive style of play and innovative training methods have helped the club to third place. They sit just two points from the top spot and Radrizzani has hailed Bielsa for playing his part in what he describes as a doubling of value for the club since he took over in May 2017.
“I think everything [has improved],” he added. “The club has progressed in terms of management and facilities. This year also the sports side is doing better, the whole combination gives me the impression that the club is catching up to be a modern club, to be soon ready.
“If not this year then the next one, to be ready to go into the right direction for promotion. That’s what I wanted after last year I really wanted a manager with a strong leader and be a catalyst for the entire club.
“Not only to change the players, I thought we needed to change the entire culture of the club and quickly he has already achieved that objective, so I am happy about that. Let’s keep going and see where we are in a few months. Of course [we can get into the Premier League], if not he would never have come to Leeds. We will see.”
Radrizzani has other business interests including the Eleven Sports Network which is broadcasting in 12 countries including bringing La Liga and Serie A to the UK.
His broadcast operation has come under criticism for breaking the historic English football rule for showing Barcelona versus Athletic Club during the nicknamed ‘blackout period’ of 3pm on Saturday, when most fixtures across the various leagues take place. Radrizzani has come out staunchly in defence of the Eleven Sports decision to show football matches during this period.
“As far as we know, I am ready to have a friendly and open conversation about this point,” He concluded. “To consider penalising us [is wrong] because there are already betting showing these games live. Why, when we legitimately paid for the rights, can we not show it?
“Also there are many other illegal sites and pirates that we should fight against. I am open to talk to find a friendly solution but we will carry on. Uefa haven’t contacted us to tell us to stop. We have the support of La Liga to do this. To do it with Serie A, we will have to discuss it with them.
“Also I would like to see why if this is competing with ticket sales in UK stadiums, why they are not worried about Tour de France and other sports when they are shown [at the same time] on live TV? I am not against the blackout, particularly for domestic events but I don’t think that people will fly to Italy or Spain and damage the ticket sales in the UK.”