HULL CITY vice-chairman Ehab Allam believes the best solution to the on-going row over TV rights in the Football League is for the Championship to become effectively ‘Premier League B’.
The governing body this week agreed a controversial new five-year deal with Sky Sports worth £595m that will kick off next season.
It represents an increase of 35 per cent on the current contract, but several of the Championship’s larger clubs believe this does not reflect the value of the rights.
Veiled threats of a possible breakaway deal that could see the second tier set up on their own have been made, while yesterday saw several of those dissenting clubs meeting at Villa Park.
Allam, in the process of selling the East Riding club after a little under eight years of his family being at the helm, does admit changes to a set-up established with the arrival of the Premier League in 1992 are required.
“I can see where some of the clubs are coming from in terms of the income,” said the Tigers chief when speaking exclusively to The Yorkshire Post.
“It isn’t enough for the bigger clubs and I understand that. What I don’t understand is this desire to possibly break away to form a separate league, meaning the clubs would have to cover the huge running costs and so on.
“The Premier League can afford to be run as a separate entity because they have the income to do so.
“What I do think makes much more sense is for the Championship to move under the umbrella of the Premier League – basically become ‘Premier League B’.
“There would still be relegation and promotion between what is now the Championship and League One. But the four divisions would be split between two under Premier League control and two under the EFL.”
The new Sky contract, signed off by the League One and Two clubs earlier this year, is believed to have been unanimously agreed by the nine-member EFL Board.
All three divisions of the Football League are covered, with the money split between the 72 clubs depending on the division in which they play.
Following yesterday’s meeting – whose attendees included Stoke, Derby, Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa – a joint statement revealed the clubs were “gravely concerned” over the deal.
It added: “We remain convinced that any solution to the broadcasting of EFL competitions can only be on the basis of protecting attendances and securing the financial position of all our 72 clubs.
“There is a calm determination within Championship clubs to ensure the matter is not left here.”
A disparity between TV incomes in the Premier League and Championship is at the root of many complaints, with the £95m West Bromwich Albion received for finishing bottom last season being not too far short of what all 72 clubs will share annually from the new Sky deal.
“The gap is the biggest issue,” added Allam, whose family’s sale of the Tigers has passed the due diligence stage and remains firmly on course for completion.
“This leads to Championship clubs being massively out of kilter with Leagues One and Two.
“The needs of the Championship clubs are much more in line with those of the Premier League than the other divisions in the EFL.
“You tend to find that League One and Two clubs vote one way, the Championship the other.
“The length of this TV deal is a perfect case in point as to how the parties think differently. To those who maybe don’t have the confidence in the product a five-year deal is seen as vital security.
“But to those in the Championship who, in general, are more aspirational in their outlook five years is seen as too long. The Premier League has proved that three-year cycles for TV deals work very well.”