Christmas is on the way and while that will have most of us nervously checking the state of our bank and credit card balances for months to come, one man unlikely to be losing too much sleep over his finances is the outgoing king of the Premier League, Richard Scudamore.
By Dave Bowler
Already excruciatingly well remunerated across his tenure, upon his departure, the division’s clubs are each now required to divvy up £250,000 apiece to provide Scudamore with a £5million golden handshake as he heads off into the sunset.
One can only assume that golden handcuffs will be a corollary of the deal, for the only reason for rewarding him so handsomely on his departure must surely be to stop him popping up and running something else in competition with the EPL. Like a European Superleague for example.
Love, loathe – or both – the Premier League, you have to admire the beast that Scudamore has turned it into, for all the suspicion that he is getting out just at the point it has passed its peak as a revenue generating monster.
Acting entirely in the interests of the league and the league alone – wider interest of the whole game? Bugger that! – he has ensured that monumental revenue streams beyond the dreams of avarice have flowed into that business.
And when you look at the club owners we are saddled with those days, to go beyond their greed dreams is something else. But Scudamore has regularly delivered ever increasing TV deals as the Premier League has become the world’s league of choice.
And that is where the Premier League’s clubs might be feeling just a bit nervous. Why is he going? What does it say about the Premier League? What has he got his eye on next? Because if it is a competitor, they should be afraid. Very afraid.
There have been few more ruthless and focused administrators than Scudamore over his time at the top – the effective strangling of TV company Setanta with the concomitant consequences for football beyond the PL, especially in Scotland, for instance – and that marks him down as someone you don’t want to be competing with.
Hence, perhaps, the £5million bonus, to keep him on the golf course and out of other people’s boardrooms. Because for all that the last ten days have seen those at the highest levels moving to calm fears about the Super league, we’re not children. We can all see it coming can’t we?
The supposedly soothing talk of yet another European competition to sit alongside the Europa League is laughable. Nobody really believes that is going to generate interest, nor revenue, on the scale demanded. And with talk of “rationalising” leagues to level out the calendar – that’s getting rid of the League Cup in England and Scotland and cutting the PL to 18 sides in simple language – it’s plain that the also rans are of no interest to the top brass.
Because over the years, Scudamore has taught the footballing world a lesson, and it’s this. Television has the money and if you want it, you do whatever television wants. And what television really wants, is an audience.
Deliver that, and you can count the cash until the cows come home. And you deliver that not by caring about the good of the game, the football family or any of those other empty platitudes doled out by those at the top when they’re pretending to be well rounded people rather than simply venal.
You deliver it by ensuring there’s a never ending diet of the elite clubs, all playing one another forever and ever. The new and sought after audiences in Yokohama, Johannesburg, Shanghai and Melbourne want Manchester United, Barcelona, Juventus and PSG with all those PlayStation players on tap.
And nobody has delivered it better than Scudamore, massaging the schedules to shunt Burnley, Huddersfield and the like out of harm’s way, giving Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea top billing. So just imagine what damage he could wreak if he was allowed to get his hands on Real Madrid. £5million to keep him out of the way? Cheap at twice the price.