The recent FA Premier League auction for domestic broadcast rights saw Sky and BT spend over £3 billion to be the sole media owners with the legal right to show top-flight matches. This was an increase of 70% over the last auction round and means that Sky alone are paying £6.6 million PER MATCH! If you thought your cable / satellite TV bill was high, don't expect it to go anywhere but north.
Each Premier League club will receive £30 million from Sky. EPL chief executive Richard Scudamore said he hopes that this new boost in revenue won't just go to players' wages; “An element of this will allow clubs to invest in playing talent,” he said. “But I hope a good degree of this will be used to develop stadium infrastructure and youth talent and to allow sustainability.”
Now, it would be foolish to think that the Premier League, with it's 'fit & proper persons' test (which allowed tax-dodger Thakshin Shinawatra, money laundered Carson Yeung, alleged arms dealer Arkadi Gaydamak and race-fixer Flavio Briatore to become involved in the running of Manchester City, Birmingham City, Portsmouth and QPR) should be any kind of moral compass. However, considering the bumper pay day they receive every time the rights auctions come around, it wouldn't be beyond the realms of sensibility for them to invest this back into the source of their rights holders' revenues; the football fans around the UK.
One way that they could very quickly succeed is by helping clubs, like Wanderers, reduce the spiraling overheads that the nation's governing body deem fit to impose. For example;
- Public Liability Insurance - for reasons unclear, the amount of cover has been increased from £1 million to £10 million. Meaning that if, in some freak accident, one of our players managed to kick a football into something worth £10 million or less, we would be covered (excluding any deductibles). Our insurance was £120 per season. It's now £180 per season and being 'enforced' by the introduction of a 'National Game Insurance Scheme' with Bluefin Insurance as the preferred partner, according to the FA.
- Personal Injury Cover - whilst this wasn't compulsory last season, there are moves to make it an essential expense for all teams to ensure that they are protected should one of their players be injured in a serious enough manner to prevent them from working or needing long-term medical care. Wanderers players in the 1st XI have had this in place for a season already and it costs £89 for one team. Should this be extended to additional teams, 11-, 7- or 5-a-side, or youth teams, naturally, the cost increases.
- County FA Affiliation - in many cases just to hire a pitch or book a referee, you need to be affiliated to your County FA (or, in Wanderers case, the Amateur Football Alliance who, with the Army FA, are the only national, amateur-only CFAs). Without affiliation, you can't enter a league or cup competition and you are basically persona non grata in football (or maybe that should be eu quadrigis non grata). This year, the cost is broken down into Club Affiliation (£36), Team Affiliation (£30 - although why a Club wouldn't have a Team is beyond me), Handbook (£5), AFA Record (£2 - optional) and optional entry into a CFA cup competition (£18). Total; £91
- League / Cup Entry - Wanderers play in the Surrey South Eastern Combination and we entered Junior Division 4 last season, along with the Junior Cup and Shield competitions. The combined cost was £95 and they are, currently, holding those costs at the same level.
- Pitch / Facilities Hire - We are very fortunate to have an excellent arrangement in place with the Council, who recognise that we operate for charitable purposes. None the less, to hire a full-sized grass pitch for 11 home fixtures costs £605 per season. It is highly likely that these will increase once the cuts in local government spending really kick in.
- Match Officials - in our league, we only have referees but in some leagues they require referees assistants / linesmen too. Surrey FA, who our league affiliates to, have asked for referees fees to increase but SSEC have held them at £30 for the coming season. Over 11 home matches (the home team is always responsible for referee's fees), that's £330.
So, to summary, to pay for the costs of one 11-a-side team, it costs £1'390. That does not include kit, equipment, first-aid kit (which is essential to have at every game), goal nets and corner flags (if you need them) along with any stationery, sundries, hospitality, etc. We also have the costs of pitch hire for training sessions and entering a 7-a-side league and we commit to a significant charitable donation (nearly £2'000 this season) which puts the overall, 2011-2012 season cost to over £10'000.
To clarify, we do bring in more than that, enabling us to do more. However, as our fixed costs increase, how many seasons will it take before the players are no longer able to pay the costs of playing?
If Richard Scudamore could find any spare change down the back of his sofa, I know of 60-odd guys who would appreciate it very much!