- Premier League
Liverpool threaten 'game-changing' TV breakaway
Liverpool are prepared to lead a challenge for Premier League clubs to sell overseas television rights individually, according to managing director Ian Ayre.
The league's broadcast rights outside of the United Kingdom are presently sold in a joint package, which is worth £3.2 billion for 2010-13 to be shared equally among the 20 clubs.
But Ayre claims the system is unfair on the higher-profile clubs, arguing they attract more viewers and more subscriptions, and advocated the adoption of the Spanish model.
There, individual clubs have the freedom to negotiate their own packages, meaning Real Madrid and Barcelona's earnings will dwarf those of the lesser Primera Division teams - and those of the top English sides, who are restricted to their share of the league's earnings.
Ayre told the Guardian: ''Personally I think the game-changer is going out and recognising our brand globally. Maybe the path will be individual TV rights like they do in Spain.
''If you're a Bolton fan in Bolton, then you subscribe to Sky because you want to watch Bolton. But if you're in Kuala Lumpur there isn't anyone subscribing to Astro or ESPN to watch Bolton, or if they are it's a very small number. The large majority are subscribing to watch Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal.
''What we are actually doing is disadvantaging ourselves against other big European clubs. If Real Madrid or Barcelona or other big European clubs have the opportunity to realise their international media value potential, where does that leave Liverpool and Manchester United? We'll just share ours because we'll all be nice to each other? The whole phenomenon of the Premier League could be threatened.
''If they just get bigger and bigger and they generate more and more, then all the players will start drifting that way and will the Premier League bubble burst because we are sticking to this equal-sharing model? It's a real debate that has to happen.''