Celtic and Rangers are thinking about taking control of the sales of their games to TV all over the world, after the Setanta collapse, to maximise their profits from their worldwide support.
A report from Sportspromedia said: In the aftermath of Setanta’s collapse, Glasgow giants Rangers and Celtic are believed to be exploring the possibility of selling their television rights independently.
The issue of independent versus collective selling is one that spans Europe. In Spain, where rights are sold individually, Real Madrid and Barcelona garner hundreds of millions of euros, while smaller clubs struggle to find partners. Italy appears set to move away from that structure towards the collective selling model operated in England and Germany. Crucially, though, the major clubs in those countries know they are collecting a slice of a huge pie; Manchester United collected UK£90 million in broadcasting revenue in the 2007/08 season, while the Italian league’s collective agreement is worth US$6.9 billion over six years.
In contrast, even Setanta’s agreement with the SPL was worth just UK£125 million (US$204.5 million) over four seasons. Rangers and Celtic, well aware of their commercial appeal, know that they could attract close to the total amount in a deal involving just the two of them – and split it two ways instead of 12.
Another alternative, that the clubs join the English Premier League, continues to be touted. Celtic controlling shareholder Dermot Desmond predicted in 2003 that the Old Firm would be playing in England by 2008. It is yet to happen, but Setanta’s collapse has brought it closer than ever.
It would be sensible for the Old Firm to make more money from their games, but where would this leave the rest of the SPL? The Scottish League could really end up with just two professional teams in it, and then what would they do?