The SPL announced a new 5 year deal with Sky and ESPN but had to guarentee that Rangers and Celtic would stay in the league.
At the news conference both parties declined to reveal the financial details of the new five-year deal but it is thought to be worth £16 million a season to the SPL. The existing agreement, which was due to expire in 2013, was valued at £13 million a season.
While the deal does not match of the £25 million a season contract negotiated with Setanta shortly before the Irish satellite broadcaster’s collapse in 2009, the increase in tv revenue is a significant boost for the SPL clubs.
The deal announced on Monday allows the two broadcasters to continue to show 30 live SPL games per season across the UK. The SPL had outlined plans to revisit the idea of establishing an official television channel by appointing IMG Media in an advisory capacity earlier this year.
Plans for an SPL network were dropped in 2002 after failing to get the backing of Celtic and Rangers, and League chief executive Neil Doncaster this month confirmed the division's clubs would vote on whether to curtail its deal with ESPN and Sky Sports in favour of establishing its own network. The new agreement with the pay-television operators will run from the 2012-13 season through to the end of 2016-17.
Rangers not so long ago were proposing to play an Old Firm game overseas, stating the full potential of one of world football’s fiercest rivalries has yet to be realised.
The derbies in Glasgow between Rangers and Celtic are the showpiece occasion of Scottish football and despite up to seven games being played each season, Russell believes there is scope for pre or post season games to be staged in other markets.
Chief executive Neil Doncaster commented on the new deal:
"Sky Sports and ESPN are two of the biggest names in sports broadcasting and the SPL has enjoyed an excellent relationship with both broadcasters over the course of the current contract, a period which has seen a 28% increase in viewing figures."
“Old Firm involvement had to be guaranteed, but that’s been the case for a number of years. It’s the case with all of the major sponsorships we enter into.
Managing director, Barney Francis of Sky Sports, stated:
"We're delighted to agree this deal with the SPL and continue our partnership with Scottish football that began 20 years ago. This long-term agreement means Sky Sports viewers can continue to enjoy coverage of 30 live matches a season, including each Old Firm head-to-head, across TV, mobile, online and tablet devices."