Why Sky shouldn’t be the limit for Scottish football

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For many years, Scottish football has sold itself short and subserviently accepted its place as the poor relation to the English Premier League to the extent it has become a mere afterthought in the eyes of its broadcaster, Sky Sports.

Since Sky Sports acquired the exclusive rights to the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) in 2020, the game has suffered through a lack of finances, reduced live coverage (e.g. all Celtic and Rangers away games are no longer televised), and a poor presentation of its on screen product.

With the existing deal with the Sky Sports set to expire in 2025, there is an opportunity to put the rights up for tender and negotiate a much better TV package that will best serve the Scottish game.

Light at the end of the tunnel (or so we thought!)

Unfortunately, SPFL Chief Executive – Neil Doncaster has once again demonstrated his ineptitude at the negotiating table as he is pressing clubs to accept an extended deal with Sky Sports until 2029.

Under this new deal, clubs would receive even less money than under the current sub-standard package (with a marginal annual increase). Sky Sports would also pay less for individual games. The maximum number of games shown would increase from 48 to 60 but they would only be obliged to screen 42. Bear in mind they only showed 41 of their available quota last season. Furthermore, it would include an additional 10 game pay per view package that excludes Saturday games kicking off between 2.15pm and 5.15pm.

For the new deal to be ratified, an 11-1 majority of Premiership clubs would need to vote in its favour. With three years left on the existing deal, there is no need to panic. Allow time for other broadcasters like BT Sports, Premier Sports and Viaplay to join the bidding process. Assess all available options and be assertive at the negotiating table.

Sky Sports microphones at Lingfield Park on January 04, 2019 in Lingfield, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Any new deal should achieve 3 objectives:

  • Increased Finances
  • More Televised Games
  • Improved Coverage and Presentation

Continued on next page…

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk


  1. I couldn’t agree more with each of the points highlighted in the article. Especially the point about away fan allocation. We constantly hear from clubs outwith Celtic and Rangers that they don’t have the budgets to compete with the big two yet they’d rather see thousands of empty seats at their grounds than receive the additional income from filling those vacant seats with away supporters whichever teams they are playing. They cannot argue on one hand that they strive for greater revenue yet turn away the opportunity to acquire that revenue, albeit from away support. Cutting off noses to spite one’s face comes to mind. Futhermore, clubs in the SPFL often vote to protect their own interests by voting against expansion of the league to protect the income they receive by playing against the big two at least three times per season yet limit the away support when their grounds are half empty. Where is the logic in that? We need a complete overhaul of the league structure by expanding it to eighteen clubs with proper relegation and promotion, playoffs if practicable, and do away with this ludicrous split. I’m not suggesting that Celtic and Rangers won’t continue to dominate but there is a serious lack of ambition from the smaller clubs. They are happy in their self-interest to hunger after crumbs rather than develop Scottish football as a whole and grow the product to make it a more attractive spectacle. Scottish football is being governed by a bunch of inept, insular, antediluvian carrion crows.

    • Most if not all of these clubs struggle to get the basics right, on and off the field!

      A lot of the time, watching a Scottish league game is similar to watching a kick about in a local park; players lack basic technique, teams lack structural discipline and tactics are basic!

      These are all things that could easily be taught and coached into players and teams, but nobody bothers, and it shows more when our 3rd place finishers and below enter European competition for their annual pumping, often against teams working with similar budgets but who do get those basic fundamentals of the game right!

      We have 3 choices as far as our leagues concerned, that i can see:

      1. Do nothing, stay as is, 12 team set up with nobody outwith Glasgow learning or progressing.

      2. Form a 14 team top flight, Championship and 3rd tier, with a split after 26 games in each, promotion/ relegation etc, and hope its better than present over time!

      3. Form a closed Premier League consisting solely of Full-time professional clubs(i think we have around 21 – 22?), with no relegation, and hope teams can use this to their advantage by using the breathing space with fear of relegation removed to work on technique, tactics etc, perhaps even fielding more youth.

      … wouldn’t do our league any harm if a company like Red Bull decided to invest in a team outwith Glasgow too, create a third force in the league…

  2. A single Celtic v *rangers game can attract approximately about 1.5 million legitimate viewers worldwide, and a lot more if you count, ahem, streams of the game!

    Could Celtic & *rangers get together and sell their own 4 game tv package for their league encounters against each other, sell them to armchair fans for £40 for all 4 say, and split the profit?

    … it’d bring in both clubs a lot more per season than they can ever hope to make off Sky or whoever!

    Let the SPFL weakly negotiate terms for games outwith the Glasgow Derby.

    It also looks as if the number of clubs in the leagues mentioned in this article has a direct effect on how much the offer from tv companies amounts to, with those from an 18 team league making more than those from a 16 team league, and so on down to 12 team leagues…this could be yet another reason why it’d be more beneficial to restructure our league, though anything more than 14 teams in it wouldn’t be able to cater for 4 Glasgow Derby’s/season, but in the long term this may actually be beneficial to the league as a whole as it’d half the number of fixtures potential opposition title challengers would face against the Glasgow clubs!

    Good article though and a lot of good points made.