The news, which broke the other day, about the revival of Premier Sports is not great for Celtic fans, or for other Scottish football supporters.
When I was in Italy this week, I saw that all Italian club’s Champions League games are on terrestrial TV … there was a time when we’d have been able to watch every Celtic game in that tournament the same way. Those days are over with. Scottish football coverage is now split across three different companies, all paid TV channels, and that hurts ordinary fans.
Terrestrial TV stations haven’t even fought for coverage, although the contracts for these games are pitifully low when it comes to us. Premier Sports have got Scotland games, and the two cup competitions. None of them are exactly raking in the audience figures, which is reflected in the value of the deals. If BBC Scotland could be bothered, they could compete for those deals, and they should because those games belong on free TV.
The more you look at the state of our game, the more you see that the fans are just treated like absolute rubbish. We are so disrespected by everyone, including our own clubs at times. Other clubs treat us like lepers, cutting our allocations even when they have thousands of empty seats. AGM’s, like the one at Celtic, are a stage managed insult.
Worse, most clubs have owners who could sell them at moment’s notice and the governors of the game want to make that easier, not harder. We badly need a regulator here.
And a regulator should have the power to dictate a certain percentage of games which the SPFL and the SFA cannot sell to companies which charge exorbitant rates. The regulator should protect international football and the national cup competition above all else.
Otherwise, it’s not going to be long before we need another package to watch our team in certain games, and then another after that and another after that. We’re already seeing the start of this with Sky allowing clubs to sell their own PPV packages for games they aren’t showing; some might like the sound of that, but it’s the start of a slipperier slope than we’re already on.
The way this deal has passed from one company to another is symptomatic of how bad this situation is. We should have had a break clause in this deal that enabled us to get out of it and re-negotiate in the event that those we signed it with couldn’t, or wouldn’t, fulfil it. Instead we’ve been passed from one shaky company to another and that’s a disgrace.
Fans are not being served by this system, but that doesn’t seem to bother those in charge of “governing”. We need a regulator far more than England ever did.