Who benefits from the Premier League's new TV deal?
The Premier League reconfirmed its position as the world's richest domestic football competition on Tuesday with the announcement of a broadcasting deal for a record-breaking 5.14 billion pounds ($7.9 billion).
The three-year deal with Sky Sports and BT Sports from 2016 to 2019 means that all of England's top clubs will be richer than ever before, with each televised match worth more than 10 million pounds ($15.3 million). Critics have claimed that it only makes football's richest even wealthier while fans and the grassroots of the game will be ignored. Here we take a look at who will benefit from the Premier League's cash bonanza.
What impact will the new broadcasting deal have on Premier League clubs?
All 20 Premier League clubs already rank among the 40 richest in the world and this new broadcasting deal is 70 percent higher than the three billion pounds ($4.6 billion) that was raised from the sale of the existing deal, which finishes at the end of next season.
Quite simply, bigger bank balances mean that clubs will be able to sign top players on bigger salaries and also invest in other areas, such as expanding grounds or build new ones. They have also promised to spend more on youth development and a range of other community and fan initiatives.
Yet this is where they could come unstuck. Stephen Morrow, Senior Lecturer in Sports Finance at the University of Stirling, said: "Until now, all additional income has gone on player salaries and transfers. The new broadcasting deal means that the Premier League will be under more scrutiny than ever. If it doesn't become more socially responsible then I can see the government intervening to ensure some of this money benefits the wider football family."
Will fans benefit from this deal?
One of the main concerns is that none of the new broadcasting revenue will trickle down to the fans and that they will continue to pay exorbitant ticket prices. The Football Supporters Federation insists that just 3 percent of the new deal would help fund its "Twenty's Plenty" campaign, which is calling for a cap of 20 pounds ($30) on the price of away tickets. The group is also demanding cheaper home tickets and calling on the Premier League to do more for fans and the grassroots of the game.
Chair Malcolm Clarke said: "Billions of pounds have fallen into clubs' laps and there's a real chance for them to do something positive with that wealth. Over the past couple of decades players, owners and agents have all gained from this windfall and now it's time for fans to benefit via lower prices."
Meanwhile, armchair football fans should prepare for the worst. A Sky Sports subscription can cost anything up to 35 pounds ($53) per month and the general feeling in the industry is that this figure will to increase to set off the increased money paid for the rights to televise Premier League games. BT does currently offer a free Premier League subscription, albeit to customers who have signed up for its broadband service.
How will players benefit?
Sky Andrew, one of Britain's leading football agents, believes that the new deal will not only push up transfer fees and salaries but also cause sought-after players to opt for shorter contracts. He said: "These broadcasting deals are over three years and each time, the money has massively increased. The top players will be thinking that things are just getting better so why not go for a shorter contract because in another three years time the club will have more money."
Andrew points to the U.S., where NBA star LeBron James is expected to exercise an opt-out clause from his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and sign an extended four-year deal when a new television deal begins in 2016-17, reportedly earning him an extra $43 million (28 million pounds).
Andrew added: "You will also have a bigger pool of clubs who are able to pay bigger salaries and transfer fees and that's good news for the players."
Are agents preparing to make even more money from the new broadcasting deal?
Figures released last year showed that Premier League clubs paid 115 million pounds ($177 million) to agents. While Andrew concedes that there will be rich pickings to be had from the new broadcasting revenue he adds that players are becoming increasingly savvy and expecting more for their buck. Once again, he looks to America.
"The top athletes in America have a team of people around them to give them quality representation and advice and that's happening more with footballers in Europe," Andrew said. "Players are more aware of their potential and what they can earn and thinking 'how can this money be divided up in a way that suits me better?'
"The players know they have financial power and it's not simply a case of agents earning a commission from them. The agents who can provide better all-round representation are the ones who will do well in this lucrative market."
How does the Premier League compare to its European rivals and other sports?
The Premier League's new broadcasting deal, which works out to 1.7 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) per season, made it the second-most lucrative sports league in the world behind the NFL, which generates a staggering 4.5 billion pounds ($7 billion) per season. The NBA's new television deal is worth around 1.5 billion pounds ($2.3 billion) per year.
Compared to its European counterparts, however, the Premier League is well ahead when it comes to television money. Germany's Bundesliga generates around 500 million pounds ($770 million) per year, while La Liga nets around 560 million pounds ($860 million) per year; however, most of that is gobbled up by the big two of Barcelona and Real Madrid because Spain has no collective agreement in place. Italy's Serie A generates just over 700 million pounds ($1.1 billion) per year.
Has the Premier League hit a ceiling with its football television deals?
No. More cash is on the way with the sale of overseas rights later this year. The previous deal was worth just over 2.23 billion pounds ($3.5 billion), and with interest in the Premier League growing, particularly in Asia, many feel that the new contract could be worth double, if not more. This could mean that the combined value of the Premier League's broadcasting deal (domestic and overseas) could be worth somewhere around a mouthwatering 9-10 billion pounds ($13-15 billion).
Morrow said: "There's nothing to suggest that the growth is going to stop. The Premier League is a product that is very attractive to broadcasters."
Andrew added: "I keep thinking to myself that the money just can't continue going up but each time I'm proved wrong."
Vivek Chaudhary is a journalist who writes for The Independent and other leading media. Twitter: @viveksport