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Men's Football Football League clubs furious with new TV deal

WORRIED Championship clubs are “gravely concerned” following the English Football League’s new TV deal with Sky and warned that the matter is not closed.

The league agreed a five-year domestic broadcasting deal with Sky Sports worth £595 million, starting next season, on Monday despite opposition from clubs.

In a statement, clubs have revealed their frustration with the agreement.

Nineteen clubs from the league wrote to the Football League urging them not to sign the contract.

A large number — including Stoke, Derby, Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa — met in Birmingham yesterday.

“Championship clubs are gravely concerned that the EFL board has announced it has approved a new long-term domestic broadcasting rights deal,” a statement read.

“Nineteen clubs from the league wrote to the EFL asking them not to sign the proposed deal and to engage in meaningful discussions. This was ignored.

“The clubs discovered that in the space of 15 months, without our knowledge, material changes had been made to this draft agreement.

“When the Football League Board presented the new version of the deal — it gave more games and rights for less money and damaged the ability of clubs to control the decision to stream games and its pricing.

“Our issues are not with Sky, who we respect and value, but with the way in which the proposed agreement has been negotiated and explained to clubs.

“We remain convinced that any solution to the broadcasting of Football League competitions can only be on the basis of protecting attendances and securing the financial position of all our 72 clubs.

“There is a calm determination within Championship clubs to ensure the matter is not left here.”

The meeting came in response to Monday’s announcement by the Football League.

The deal was unanimously approved by the league’s nine-strong board but is slightly different to the agreement provisionally made with the broadcaster last September.

That was for £600m over five seasons and Sky Sports has also obtained eight extra midweek games a season.

Several Championship sides, including Derby and Leeds, strongly criticised the original proposal and many are unhappy with the final agreement.

A breakaway league had been suggested, while some clubs believe the deal ties the league in for too long and was not worth enough money.

Clubs also want the 72 Football League sides to be able to split their rights packages to take advantage of technological changes such as live streaming.

The Football League board decided the deal was the best option and it will allow every club the chance to build their own “direct to consumer” streaming service.

In a statement, the Football League’s interim chair, Debbie Jevans, said: “Having fully considered the matter, its implications and any associated risks, the Football League board is satisfied that the right deal for the Football League and its clubs has been reached.

“Concluding these negotiations has indeed been challenging, as is the case when managing a diverse group of stakeholders, and the board took on board the comments and frustrations voiced by a number of clubs and has committed to reviewing the way the league engages with its clubs to ensure that we move forward in a collaborative way in the future.”

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