Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Mr Premier League Will Be Hard Act to Follow; / in Association With

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Mr Premier League Will Be Hard Act to Follow; / in Association With

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Evans

THE master negotiator is leaving the table. Richard Scudamore, the man who dragged English football into the 21st century, announced yesterday that he is standing down as chief executive of the Premier League by the end of the year.

Even his enemies will struggle to rejoice at his departure. Those who believe the 58-year-old is a harmful influence on the game are nervous about what happens next.

Scudamore's great skill was to eke the best deals from broadcasters to enrich the entitled 20 clubs that comprise the top flight. Supporters have found developments during his 19-year tenure less edifying. The relationship between football and television was cemented during Scudamore's time in charge. The bonds between fans and clubs have been stretched to breaking point. His plan for the 39th game, a domestic fixture played abroad, deserves a place in the pantheon of bad ideas.

TV now dictates kick-off times and the cash that Sky, BT Sport and a legion of foreign companies have pumped into the game has done little to halt spiralling ticket prices. Elite football is wealthier than ever but less affordable for supporters. The Bristol City fan understands the connection between clubs and the communities from which they grew, but the biggest stain on his legacy has been his failure to protect the interests of the people who come through the turnstiles.

He leaves with another watershed looming. Yesterday, the ruling body announced that the two unsold domestic TV packages had been purchased.

One of the buyers is Amazon Prime. The entry of a subscription-based streaming service into the marketplace changes the landscape of future deals. On a basic level, viewers will need to pay three different providers if they want comprehensive coverage of the top flight from 2020 to 2023. The likes of Google and Netflix are watching carefully and, if Amazon's experiment is a success, more streaming companies may join the bidding for the next cycle of rights. …

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