Belfast Telegraph

Monday 30 May 2016

BT Sport's Champions League deal shifts balance of power

Telegraph Sport: where the debate really gets started

With Steven Beacom

Published 11/11/2013

Jamie Carragher (left) and Gary Neville are two of Sky Sports' big hitters
Jamie Carragher (left) and Gary Neville are two of Sky Sports' big hitters

The biggest football winner at the weekend was BT Sport, who gleefully announced they had signed an exclusive £897m three year deal to broadcast live Champions League and Europa League games from 2015.

Forget the Europa League, few are interested in watching that, but the Champions League, the biggest and best club competition in the world, is must see television.

The news was a major blow to Sky and ITV, who currently share the rights.

Trying to put a brave face on it, they declared that they weren't willing to pay over the odds for the coverage, basically suggesting that's exactly what BT Sport did.

Fair point perhaps, but this is a gamble BT Sport are willing to take to prove they are serious about ending Sky's dominance in this field.

The contract, priced at a mind blowing £299m per season, will mean even more money for British clubs in European competition.

As for the rest of us, we may have to fork out for this monumental investment with the fear that our BT bills will become bigger in the future.

Remember BT has already spent mega-millions for the rights to show Premier League matches.

BT's European football will mean they'll need more commentators and pundits. Sky may face a battle to hang on to their big hitters like Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.

BT should make a move for both and while they are at it, they should recruit a superior presenter to front their Champions League offerings than the clueless and self important Jake Humphrey. Even Adrian Chiles is better than him!

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