The upsurge in interest created by Steven Gerrard’s appointment as Rangers manager could lead to a record television deal for Scottish football.
The Scottish Professional Football League chief executive Neil Doncaster, pictured, is confident it can tap into the publicity generated by Gerrard’s arrival to secure a broadcast contract worth double the current terms.
The current deal expires at the end of next season and the SPFL is in negotiations over a new contract that would replace the £18.95 million per season agreement with Sky Sports and BT Sport.
The league had previously expressed confidence that the emergence of possible new bidders – including Eleven Sports, who this week won the rights to screen La Liga in the UK, and potentially Amazon – would allow it to top the previous highest figure of £31m per year. That was signed with Setanta a decade ago.
Sources at the league body suggest the Gerrard factor offers them further bargaining chips. It has led to hopes that, once the various overseas rights and contracts for different broadcasting are taken into account, they can push the sum earned through Scottish football coverage to somewhere near the £40m mark.
Eleven Sports is believed to be keen to make further inroads into the British broadcasting market after its success in outbidding Sky for La Liga this week. The company is only three years old, having been established by Leeds United’s Italian owner Andrea Radrizzani, but already has a presence in European markets in Italy, Belgium and Poland, as well as the USA, Singapore and Taiwan.
Meanwhile, reports suggest that Amazon are keen to test the waters as regards the football television rights market by buying into one of the smaller European leagues.
Gerrard, the former Liverpool and England captain, was appointed Rangers manager on Friday on a four-year contract, generating huge interest in the UK sports media and beyond.