(WFI) Celtic have hit out at the Scottish Premier League’s decision to accept a £65 ($106) million broadcasting deal with BSkyB and ESPN, claiming it will cost them up to £12 ($19.65) million.

The SPL’s 12 clubs accepted the deal following a vote, which was not unanimous, at Glasgow’s Hampden Park. The new deal follows last month’s collapse of Irish Pay TV broadcaster, Setanta, and is worth only half of the previous deal, agreed earlier this year.

“Celtic have a responsibility to speak out for our supporters who will be deeply dissatisfied with the background to, and outcome of, today’s SPL decision and the events leading up to it,” said John Reid, the Celtic chairman.

“No one should underestimate the blow that has been inflicted on this club and Scottish football by the way in which the whole affair has been handled and by the losses incurred.”

Rangers Chief Executive, Martin Bain, said that he did not think the deal represented “a fair and true reflection” of the value of SPL rights.

Earlier this year, despite the opposition of Rangers and Celtic, the SPL voted in favor of a four year deal with Setanta worth £125 ($204) million, rejecting a similar deal offered by BSkyB. 

The News Corp owned broadcaster is a clear winner, having now picked up the same rights for a fraction of the old price.

“The whole SPL is now a commercial victim, in an uncompetitive TV market, in the middle of a recession, locked in for years to an income some 60% lower than last year’s bid,” said Reid.

“This is the direct consequence of last year’s misjudgment, one that has cost us all some £70 ($114) million in a sport that desperately needs the income and where our supporters are already paying their own hard-earned cash.”

“To Celtic it means a potential loss of up to £12 ($19.65) million over the four-year period – the equivalent of around 6,500 season tickets each year.”

ITV Say Key Matches Must Be Free

ITV, the UK’s main commercial TV broadcaster, is to lobby the government for all World Cup and European Championship qualifying games involving home nations to be added to the list of sporting events protected for free-to-air television.

Under UK legislation, key sporting events such as the World Cup Finals, Wimbledon tennis open and the Grand National are protected from being broadcast on Pay-TV channels.

ITV is making a submission to an independent government review, led by former Football Association executive director David Davies, using independent research to show that public support for the idea remains strong. Last year there was a public outcry when Setanta held the exclusive rights to England’s World Cup qualifier away to Croatia and initially refused to sell even the highlights to a free-to-air broadcaster.

According to ITV’s research, which was conducted by Ipsos Mori, 78% of people believe it is “important” for major events to be shown free-to-air and 81% believe it is important that regulation is in place to protect them.

Submissions to the review panel close next week and the qualifying matches, along with Twenty20 cricket, are expected to be the principle sporting events due for consideration.

Chelsea Extend Samsung Partnership

Chelsea has extended its shirt sponsorship deal with Samsung for a further three years, taking it up until the end of the 2012/13 season.

The South Korean electronics company will continue to have the right to use Chelsea players and club imagery in its marketing campaigns.  No financial details have been disclosed, but it is believed to trump the previous £11 ($17.9) million per year deal.

The deal was followed by newspaper speculation that the successful negotiations would be the last act of its Chief Executive, Peter Kenyon.

Kenyon, one of English football’s great power brokers, has reputedly felt sidelined at Stamford Bridge over recent months. He was on holiday when Luis Felipe Scolari was sacked as manager in February, and the Brazilian’s sacking came just weeks after Kenyon had given him his unequivocal backing. Chelsea’s recent promotion of Frank Arnesen to the new position of sporting director was reported as a “blow” to the 55 year-old because of the likely overlap in their roles. He also kept a low profile at the recent media unveiling of Carlo Ancelotti as manager.

Kenyon categorically denied he was leaving at Thursday’s unveiling of the Samsung deal.  Instead he was in bullish mood, insisting its captain, John Terry, would not be leaving for Manchester City and speaking of how the club would be moving into “phase II” of its plans to be a leading power in European football.

“Phase I” followed Roman Abramovich’s 2003 purchase of Chelsea and the soft loans that prompted an unprecedented spending spree.  “Phase II” is the shift towards self-sufficiency by the middle of the next decade.

“Ultimately, we do want to achieve stability, and not just because of a cost factor,” Kenyon told the Financial Times. “There is the whole basis of developing our teams and operating under a culture which is more than six to 12 months. To have that continuity is more beneficial.”

Beckham booed amidst talk of a European return

David Beckham has been confronted by angry fans on his return with LA Galaxy, following a loan spell with AC Milan.
Beckham was booed every time he touched the ball in LA Galaxy’s 3-1 win over New York Red Bulls. 

Supporters also showed their discontent by staying away in droves.  Previously Beckham attracted sell out crowds virtually wherever he went, but the Giants Stadium was three-quarters empty for last night’s game.

The angry response comes after mounting speculation that Beckham was seeking a return to Europe so he could boost his chances of being in England’s squad for next summer’s World Cup Finals in South Africa.

Earlier this week Beckham revealed England coach Fabio Capello told him he has to be playing in Europe before next summer’s World Cup in South Africa.  The 34 year old had previously said that he would never play for another EPL side other than Manchester United, but he made a U-turn this week, saying,  he would “definitely consider it” while simultaneously restating his commitment to LA Galaxy.  A second loan move to AC Milan, nevertheless seems the most likely option.

“It’s sometimes nice to get the boos. It gives you some inspiration,” was Beckham’s somewhat unconvincing response after last night’s match.

On the low attendance, the former England captain said: “Obviously the first year was impressive. We’re in a recession so, you know, maybe that’s part of it.”

Pardew takes St Mary’s hot seat

A week after Southampton were rescued from financial administration by Swiss businessman Markus Liebherr’s takeover deal, Alan Pardew has been made manager of the League One club.

The former Crystal Palace player has had a tumultuous time since coming within seconds of lifting the FA Cup as West Ham manager in May 2006. 

In December he was sacked by the east London club’s new owners following a poor run of results.  Almost immediately he was made manager of Charlton Athletic, but suffered relegation from the EPL at the end of the 2006/07 season.  After failing to restore Charlton to the top flight, he left the club in November 2008; Charlton were relegated to League One at the end of the 2008/09.  A burgeoning media career was then cut short after Pardew made inappropriate comments live on air during BBC’s Match of the Day 2.

“We are delighted to have been able to attract Alan to St. Mary’s from a very strong field of candidates we identified and who expressed an interest in joining us,” Liebherr told Sky Sports News.

“Alan has a strong track record and impressed us with his vision, commitment and ambition.”

Written by James Corbett

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