Matchdebating: Sky’s investment is a force for good in football

Two weeks ago publican Karen Murphy won a landmark victory in the European Court of Justice over Sky and the Premier League.

The victory made it legal for Murphy’s pub to transmit cheaper coverage from the continent of Premier League matches.

The significance of this case poses questions for Sky and could challenge the stranglehold it has over the coverage of arguably its key asset, Premier League football.

In the eyes of many, this toppling of Murdoch’s empire may seem a step forward for British football.

However, is Sky’s monopoly such a bad thing? And will the cheapening of televised football be beneficial to the state of the British game?

Sky is the biggest investor in British football, contributing millions each year as a result of its Premier League coverage. Through this funding the Premier League has been able to promulgate itself as the dominant league in the world and in turn expanded its global appeal.

This can only be a positive outcome for English football. Without the money of Sky, we may never have seen the likes of Henry, Zola or Drogba. The quality of the Premier League is exemplified in the presence of Engish clubs in the latter stages of European competitions every season.

Without the continuance of this level of funding by Sky, the standard of the Premier League would fall and English football would suffer as a result.

One of the arguments against Sky is its discrepancy between coverage and funding of the Premier League compared with the Football League.

Yet, after the fall of ITV Digital, Sky bailed out the Football League clubs with a substantial investment to buy their television rights.

Now Sky invests over £254 million into the Football League and televises 70 of its games annually, plus the playoffs, raising the profile and wealth of its 72 clubs.

Alongside this, there are regulations in place that prevent games being shown at 3pm on a Saturday – the period when the majority of lower league matches are played.

England’s lower league attendances are still high when compared with the rest of Europe, with the Championship the fourth best supported European league. If games were to be shown through European broadcasters this would no longer be the case and attendances would drastically drop.

Finally, the rights possibly ending up with continental broadcasters would affect the way in which we enjoy televised football.

We have all streamed matches online where we have to experience foreign commentary, where the pictures arrive five minutes after the incident has occurred and the half time analysis is nonexistent.

With Sky you are given a high class broadcaster that not only provides you with substantial coverage but also pundits that more often than not provide the viewer with a wider perspective of the game they are watching.

With a decrease in broadcast funding this level of coverage would decrease and severely alter the level to which we enjoy football today.

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