The Scottish Professional Football League is close to extending its deal with Sky Sports until 2029, at which point the broadcaster would be entitled to show up to 60 Premiership matches a season for a payment of £29.5m.
Sky’s existing deal with the SPFL, which allows a maximum of 48 games a season, is due to expire in 2025. Under the revised terms, Sky will continue with that limit this season and next at a cost of £25.7m and £26.7m respectively. From the 2024-25 season the 60-match limit triggers a £27.6m payment which will increase by almost £2m for the next four seasons. Sky will have the option of further 10-match SPFL bundles at the cost of around £4m from 2024-5.
In each of the past two seasons Sky have opted to stop well short of showing 48 live matches; with the new commitment, their contracted minimum would rise to 42. With 60 games would come the option to visit each top-flight club’s ground five times, as opposed to the current maximum of four.
On the table for Scottish clubs as an added incentive is scope to sell up to five of their home matches each season on a pay-per-view basis, but only if the fixture has not been chosen for live Sky broadcast and does not – pending special dispensation – fall in the UK blackout window between 2.45pm and 5.15pm on a Saturday. As an example, Ross County could in theory have switched last weekend’s visit of Celtic – which was not selected for television coverage – to an early or late kick-off for this purpose.
Whether or not Sky appropriately value the Scottish game is a source of ongoing debate among supporters and in boardrooms. Stewart Robertson, the Rangers managing director, said last year: “When you look at the television deal we’ve currently got in place with Sky – and Sky are fantastic partners, so no criticism of Sky whatsoever – we have undersold the product.” Dave Cormack, the Aberdeen chairman, and Hibs’s Ron Gordon have made similar remarks about the negotiating strength of SPFL officials.
Sky’s desire to safeguard a higher number of SPFL matches will increase the sense that the subscription channel is wary of losing games from the upcoming renegotiation of a deal with the English Football League. The relatively modest year-on-year increases Sky have proposed to Scotland also emphasises the SPFL’s desire to bank guaranteed cash until 2029 rather than invite risk.
The delving of Amazon Prime into the Premier League market had fuelled earlier speculation that Scotland may pursue an alternative broadcast path. BT Sport shared coverage with Sky in Scotland before the former backed away from what was popular programming at the start of the 2020-21 season.
The SPFL had to revise its title sponsorship with cinch after confirmation Rangers had no requirement to provide an inventory. A number of Scottish clubs are known to be keen to learn what, in monetary terms, the lengthy contractual dispute involving Rangers, the SPFL and Park’s Motor Group has cost the Scottish game.