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Europa League


BT's Champions League coup

BT is understood to have won the rights from Uefa to televise the Champions League and the Europa League for three years from 2015. Under the present deal worth £400m the lion's share of the games go to ITV rather than Sky.

BT is thought to have paid almost £1 billion, double what the former two companies paid to share the current contract in 2011. Uefa had hoped for £600m so its hopes have been exceeded. Some of the extra money will find its way into Champions League prizes, making the financial importance of qualification even greater.

Uefa punish six clubs

Uefa have temporarily withheld prize money from six clubs who took part in last season's competitions while they further investigate their financial affairs.   This can be seen as a warning shot across the bows and it has not been taken against a major club in one of the 'big five' leagues.

Everton's dilemma illustrates a broader problem

Everton's 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane is a creditable result and must give them renewed hope as they face a tough end of the season with Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea still to play away from home.

Everton face a dilemma.   Everton manager David Moyes believes that earning a place in next season's Europa League would enhance his side's prospects of keeping their best players and make them a more attractive proposition for potential transfer targets.

Good financial results for Magpies

Newcastle United have reported a profit for the second successive year of £1.4m. For most companies of their size, that would be disappointing, but in football it's a good outcome to be in the black. The new Premier League television deal that begins next season should lead to even better financial results.

The wages-to-turnover ratio is over two-thirds and hence well above the recommended 50 per cent level, but it is still much better than at many Barclays Premier League clubs.

BT buys ESPN's sports channels

BT is buying ESPN's sports television channels in the UK and Ireland as it steps up its challenge to BSkyB in the pay-tv market.   Last June BT agreed to pay £738m for the rights to 38 Premier League matches including 18 'first picks'.   The move removed ESPN's status as the only rival to Sky and made the US company's withdrawal from the British market more likely.

Bradford could opt out of Europa League

Bradford City will consider withdrawing from the Europa League next season should they qualify by beating Swansea City in the Capital One cup final at Wembley tomorrow.

The club is concerned that it lose money by competing.   They think that the cost of staging matches and funding travel would outweigh any income from television and prize money.

Involvement in one Europa League qualifying round tie alone was worth about £77,000 per club last season.   The club also earn additional money from sponsorship of matches and even of away travel.

BT interested in ESPN's football rights

BT is in discussions to acquire football rights from sports broadcaster ESPN as the Disney-owned channel explores an exit from the UK.   The rights that are available include matches from the Bundesliga, Europa League and FA Cup.   However, BSkyB is also interested.

Top clubs back Europa League

Europe's top clubs have given their support to the current format of Uefa competitions following speculation over the future of the Europa League.   In Novrmber Uefa president Michel Platini created a stir when he said that expanding the Champions League to 64 teams and getting rid of the Europa League was an option.

Understanding financial fair play

This is by no means easy as the rules are complex, perhaps deliberately so in order to give Uefa plenty of wriggle room.  As we have said many times, a lot depends on how the rules are enforced and whether they are challenged in the courts.

Sports lawyer Daniel Geey has produced his 'ten top tips' for understanding the rules.   So if you want to know what an acceptable deviation is, and how it is calcjulated, here is your chance.

The future of the Champions League and Europa League

The future of the Champions League and Europa League is under discussion by Uefa.   One possibility is the absorption of the Europa League by the Champions League to create a 64-club competition.  Quite how this would work out in practice remains to be seen, but it could involve an eight club group stage but with only one fixture between clubs instead of two as at present.