Virgin Media Fights The Great English Football Swindle
FOOTBALL and money have a troubled relationship.
On one hand, the huge sums of money that changes hands in the game bring some of the most brilliant footballers to the English leagues. A lot of cash is brought in by the Premier League and, with that, we’ve seen an improvement in stadiums, personnel and from a technical point of view, even the coverage is better (there’s no accounting for taste when it comes to your chosen commentator).
However, alongside the benefits are huge problems. With clubs trying to keep up with the Joneses, many hit huge financial difficulty and tickets prices to watch English sides are some of the highest in Europe. All football fans know the stats about how little it costs to watch German teams at the top of their table, compared with Championship (and lower) clubs.
And now, even the TV companies are worried about it.
Virgin Media has asked broadcast regulator Ofcom to open an investigation into the way that the Premier League sells their TV rights to live football games.
Virgin reckon that the auction process is driving up prices for fans and causing “significant consumer harm”. As a result, Ofcom is “considering” the complaint.
Naturally, the Premier League aren’t having it, and have said that their audio-visual rights had “always been sold in a transparent and open process”.
“Regulators have examined our rights packaging and sales process in considerable detail in the past and found both of them to be compliant with UK and European competition law,” it added in a statement.
Does this mean that Virgin are planning on putting a bid in for some live Premier League games? The company have said that they won’t be planning to make any bids at the next auction, but even so, it is causing them problems.
They say that they’re affected by the price of Premier League TV because they have to pay higher prices to buy the sports channels from BSkyB and BT.
“UK fans pay the highest prices in Europe to watch football on TV,” said Virgin Media’s chief corporate affairs officer Brigitte Trafford. So not only is it expensive for English fans to go to the stadiums, but it also considerably more expensive to watch them on television.
Ofcom said it would take eight weeks or so to consider the complaint made by Virgin “before deciding whether any further action is required”.