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Championship clubs weigh up next move in TV rights stand off

PUBLISHED: 15:12 22 November 2018 | UPDATED: 23:57 22 November 2018

Norwich City's derby trip to Ipswich was broadcast on Sky Sports red button service earlier this season 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City's derby trip to Ipswich was broadcast on Sky Sports red button service earlier this season Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

Championship clubs appear to be on a collision course with the Football League’s (EFL) top brass over the new £595m broadcast deal agreed with Sky Sports.

A collective statement was released earlier this week from the majority of Championship clubs expressing ‘grave concern’ at the deal, which represents a 35pc increase on the current contract.

Norwich City declined to comment but 19 Championship clubs reportedly urged the EFL to reconsider signing the new five-year deal, which starts from 2019/20, to show 138 live league games per season. The Guardian newspaper claim a potential legal challenge and vote of no confidence in the EFL board are now options under consideration.

It is believed Championship clubs are unhappy not only at the length and size of the new broadcast contract but issues relating to the negative impact of Sky Sport’s red button coverage on potential revenue from the iFollow streaming platform.

City’s league trip to Ipswich Town was selected for red button coverage two days before a high profile game the Canaries’ had promoted on their iFollow service, with the club’s away allocation at Portman Road sold out.

The Premier League’s latest three-year television rights’ package is worth more than £4.5bn and a growing number of EFL clubs want rights to be sold to several broadcasters in smaller packages over a shorter period.

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

“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 EFL 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.”

EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey defended the decision to renew the Sky Sports tie up.

“The deal we have entered into with Sky, after fully testing the current market through our external advisors, allows our clubs the benefit of financial security which was an absolute priority for us throughout this process,” said Harvey, on the EFL’s official site.

“It is a partnership that, as well as having the necessary financial benefits, provides the EFL with the platform to maximise reach and exposure for its competitions, alongside providing further opportunities for clubs to monetise some of those games not broadcast on television through a direct to consumer (DTC) offering.”

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