David Hellier, Frank Dalleres
>Gavin Patterson’s BT, which bid a sky-high £897m for the live rights to Champions League football for the next three years, could see the attractiveness of its package diminished if English clubs continue to perform badly in the prestigious competition next year.
Four Premier League teams qualify for the competition but there are fears this quota will be cut to three for the third year of BT’s contract unless there is a turnaround in form next season.
Analysis by City A.M. has shown that English sides face the prospect of losing a qualifying place if Italian and German clubs outperform them in Europe’s top competitions. This season, Italian teams, despite losses last night in the Europa League, have outperformed English teams, with Serie A winners Juventus reaching the Champions League final this week.
Patterson is confident that BT’s Champions League coverage, which begins next season, will attract new subscribers to its offerings, which include broadband, television and phone. BT said it wouldn’t comment on whether it might try to renegotiate the contract in the third year if the number of English clubs was reduced.
“We’re delighted with our upcoming exclusivity on live Champions and Europa League football from this Summer, including all of the English club matches,” a BT spokesperson said.
Losing one of the four English clubs in 2017-18, however, would deplete BT’s offering by at least six qualifying matches in the contract’s final year.
“You would imagine they would have grounds to go back and claim they should have some discount based on that,” said Liberum’s Ian Whittaker.