Celtic angry by ESPN-Sky rights deal

By Andrew Laughlin, Technology Reporter

Celtic chairman John Reid has expressed his dissatisfaction after the Scottish Premier League accepted ESPN and Sky's joint bid for TV rights, according to reports.

It was announced yesterday that the SPL had opted for the 65m, two-year deal on offer from the two broadcasters to replace the former carriage agreement with Setanta.

Prior to this development, Celtic and Old Firm rival Rangers were believed to be readying an alternative bid after becoming dissatisfied with the terms proposed by ESPN and Sky.

Despite confirming that a formal approach from the two clubs was never actually made, Reid said that that the TV rights situation has not reached a satisfactory conclusion.
"Celtic have a responsibility to speak out for our supporters who will be deeply dissatisfied with the background to, and outcome of, today's SPL decision and the events leading up to it," he told reporters yesterday after the SPL's annual general meeting.

"No-one should underestimate the blow that has been inflicted on this club and Scottish football by the way in which the whole affair has been handled and by the losses incurred."
Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell recently revealed his regret at the previous rights deal agreed with Setanta, and Reid believes that this could be a case of history repeating itself.

"Last year's decision to reject the Sky bid and opt for Setanta - arrived at against the strong opposition of Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen - has proved to be the disastrous misjudgement we indicated it might be, with Setanta now in administration," he explained.
"In turn, this has led to the dilemma we now find ourselves in. Today the SPL accepted a bid that is less than half the value of that offered by Sky last year. The whole SPL is now a commercial victim, in an uncompetitive TV market, in the middle of a recession, locked in for years to an income some 60% lower than last year's bid.

"This is the direct consequence of last year's misjudgement, one that has cost us all some 70m in a sport that desperately needs the income and where our supporters are already paying their own hard-earned cash.
"To Celtic it means a potential loss of up to 12m over the four-year period the equivalent of around 6,500 season tickets each year. We need to face up to some harsh realities. In an environment crying out for long-term thinking this concentration on short-term gain only leads to long-term pain.
"Above all the SPL must learn the lessons of these events. That is why we initiated discussion with Rangers Football Club to examine possible alternatives to the present position.

"We reserve the right to continue to explore those options not only for the longer term benefit of Celtic football club but for everyone involved."