Dave Seddon's Preston North End Press View: PNE deserve fair share of TV cash
Football is not a TV show but how often a side is shown live on the box does make for a decent debate.
As I wrote during the week, Preston have been the least-televised team in the Championship this season.
Sky have announced their list of live EFL matches until the second week of January.
By then, North End will have been shown live just the once – August’s entertaining 2-2 draw with Stoke City at Deepdale.
Some supporters regard that as a scandal, others see it as a good thing.
“Best to stay under the radar,” was the response of quite a few PNE fans when I broached the subject.
While I do take their point, it’s one thing staying under the radar and then there’s being invisible!
By the time we get into the early stages of 2019, North End will be the only side in the Championship to have been shown once.
We are talking the main live game here, not the red button midweek offering.
Leeds United will have been shown 14 times during the same period.
This not a Leeds bashing debate, it is Sky who decide who they show.
The fact the broadcaster seem to have a fixation with West Yorkshire is no choice of Leeds themselves.
In fact a section of their fans seemed cheesed off with date and kick-off time changes to accommodate the cameras.
It is the financial element of televised games which make Sky’s lopsided choices totally unfair.
All Championships clubs receive the same payment annually from the TV pot.
However, on top of that is a payment for each time they are shown live.
The home team receives £100,000 and the away team a £10,000 payment.
That latter fee for the away team is neither here or there these days, it probably just about covers travel and hotel costs of the squad.
The £100,000 is not to be sniffed at and a few home games being televised can buy a striker’s right leg.
So there needs to be more of an equal share of the games being televised if you want a level playing field.
Teams will get shown more than others and there will be an attraction towards teams nearer the top.
That said, Preston being consistently in the top 10 last season landed them only four live games.
However, where is the fairness that in the first half of this season, there will be a 13-game difference between two teams in the same league being shown?
I imagine that North End will be chosen for television at some stage in the second half of the campaign.
But it could still be a push to even match last season’s total of four games – for the record those were against Aston Villa, Bolton, Cardiff and Derby.
Preston scored only once in those four – Tom Clarke in the last minute at Cardiff.
Maybe Sky are using that as a rule of thumb and don’t consider the Lilywhites’ to be entertaining enough.
Then again, there have been plenty of stinkers of live games involving other clubs.
And some of North End’s games have been lively this season.
To wrap up my argument, if television selection is to have a financial element, it has to be fairer.
What the next television deal between Sky and the EFL looks like is currently up for debate – and a heated one at that.
A five-year deal has been agreed and is due to start next season.
The sticking point is that it needs the agreement of clubs and at the moment many in the Championship don’t like it.
Reports this week have between 15 and 19 clubs in the second tier preparing to rebel against it.
There has been talk of a breakaway by some clubs who think the new deal is way below what they want.
Where they would go if there was a breakaway is open to debate, however for there to even be talk of that is a concern.
The feeling is that the deal struck for the next five years undersells the EFL – if we go back to the £10,000 payment for an away game on TV, you can see their point.
Most Championship clubs would like to get to the Premier League – a target which is more realistic for some than others.
Chasing that dream costs money and with the top flight appearing to move into a different financial orbit with every television deal, Championship clubs want to narrow the gap slightly.
Whether they will come to an agreement and nod through the deal, remains to be seen.
But behind the scenes there is a lot of concern as to what might happen next.
Moving from football cash to referees, the FA didn’t half use a sledgehammer to crack a nut when they suspended referee David McNamara for using a game of rock, paper, scissors to decide kick-off in a recent Women’s Super League game after he forgot to take a coin on to the pitch to conduct the toss with.
Would not a quiet word with the Preston official have sufficed rather than slapping him with a three-game ban?
How many top-flight refs would get taken off the list for three weeks if they make an error? Not many, I would hazard a guess.