Sky Sports wins battle for Scottish football with new TV deal

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The SPFL have announced a new Ladbrokes Premiership TV deal with Sky Sports for five seasons beginning in 2020/21.

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Sky Sports will have exclusive rights for the Scottish Premiership, starting in 2020. Picture: SNS

Sky Sports will have exclusive rights for the Scottish Premiership, starting in 2020. Picture: SNS

The broadcaster will hold exclusive rights for up to 48 Premiership matches, which is 12 fewer than the current deal.

It was one of four new TV contracts announced on Monday evening, with SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster describing the news as “the largest ever injection of broadcast investment since the SPL was founded over 20 years ago”.

No figures have yet been released, though the Sky deal is thought to be worth around £30 million per season.

It means that despite being the popular pick with the lion’s share of fans, with one Twitter poll showing over 90 per cent approval, BT Sport will cease broadcasting Scottish football games after the 2019-20 season.

They will also lose the Betfred Cup following that season after Premier Sports, who recently took on coverage of the Scottish Cup along with the BBC, won the rights to screen matches from the other cup competition in a contract that will also run for five seasons.

The BBC have had their television and live radio packages renewed for another five seasons, again starting in 2020, as well as 20 live Ladbrokes Championship fixtures per season for 2018/19 and 2019/20.

BBC Alba have also agreed a new contract. They’ll continue to screen live matches from the lower league play-off finals and Irn-Bru Cup for three seasons beginning in 2020, along with the ‘as-live’ Scottish Premiership games shown on Saturday evenings.

Doncaster hailed the news in a statement released by the SPFL, saying: “Every single deal is a major increase on our current contracts. Taken together, these deals represent the largest ever injection of broadcast investment since the SPL was founded over 20 years ago.

“Whilst we are not in a position to reveal exact figures, it’s indicative of the sums involved that the clubs quickly voted to accept the deals put before them.

“Interest in the Scottish game is extremely high both at home and overseas and this has been reflected in the size of the commercial deals we have been able to strike in what is definitely a very challenging market.

“It has been a remarkably complex and time-consuming process, but we have definitely got the right result and our media advisor Phil Lines has played an important role in achieving this successful outcome.

“We’re particularly pleased that we have been able to agree a deal for the Ladbrokes Premiership matches on an exclusive basis with a single live broadcast partner. Sky Sports has been at the heart of the football broadcasting revolution for many, many years and its determination to secure our rights and its commitment to ensuring excellence in its programming are extremely encouraging.

“We are also delighted to announce a deal with Premier Sports to broadcast the Betfred Cup and the continuation of our partnerships with BBC Scotland and MG ALBA.

“The significant, additional money which will come into Scottish football will be extremely welcome. The game can only benefit from the strong investment and widespread exposure these deals have secured.”

Sky and BT Sport jointly hold the rights to Ladbrokes Premiership matches at present. They each show up to 30 games per season in a contract worth just £21 million to Scottish clubs.

Commentator Rory Hamilton revealed he’d written to BT bosses to make the case for Scottish football as negotiations continued into this month. However, Sky reportedly blew the competition “out of the water” with their offer.

Barney Francis, Sky Sports’ managing director, said: “This is a hugely exciting time for Scottish football – something that has been reflected in the number of fans tuning in to watch on Sky Sports. With more games, in-game clips and highlights of every single Ladbrokes Premiership clash, fans won’t miss a minute. Add in live coverage of Scotland’s Nations League campaign, and every European Championship and World Cup qualifier and we’ve really got the Scottish game covered.”

Michael O’Rourke, Premier Sports’ chairman, added: “I am genuinely delighted to secure the rights to the Betfred Cup for five seasons from 2020. This deal compliments our recently announced deal with the Scottish FA for their cup competition and completes a unique double for Premier Sports. We are looking forward to working with the SPFL in the years ahead.”