Outgoing Premier League chairman Richard Scudamore believes his success in establishing the division as the most lucrative competition in football has staved off the spectre of potential continental or global club competitions prising the country’s biggest clubs out of England.
Scudamore’s shock decision this week to step down from the role that made him one of the most influential men in the sport for two decades came after he oversaw two key developments to the Premier League’s business — the sale of TV rights to tech giant Amazon for the first time and a new revenue distribution model that will see a larger share of international TV income given to teams who finish higher in the table.
That latter decision in particular has sparked fears that Scudamore is stepping down at a moment when the league’s competitiveness is being threatened by its biggest clubs’ more aggressive pursuit of a greater share of revenue streams which have previously been distributed equally.
Yet Scudamore says that the realignment of revenue distribution — a proposal eventually approved by 18 of the league’s clubs yesterday after months of debate — was a uniquely agreed-upon reform that is unlikely to be repeated often and still keeps the Premier League income distribution at more equitable levels than other major leagues in Europe.
“Normally there’s difference of opinion on every topic,” the 59-year-old said at a media briefing.
“And this was a slightly unique topic where the six clubs who finished in the top six places this season agreed. That’s an unusual situation.”
The biggest clubs’ angling for a larger slice of the pie has led to suggestions of them breaking away from the Premier League to form a continental super-league with other European giants.
Scudamore argued that the league’s two decades of sustained growth during his tenure, in which UK TV income has rocketed from £670m to £5.1bn, has diminished the threat of any such revolution tearing apart English club football.
“This is why our success should be celebrated,” added Scudamore, who is due to step down before the end of the year.
“The stronger the Premier League is, the more successful the Premier League is, the more international deals we generate, the more TV deals go up, the less incentive there is for any of our clubs to leave.
“Why would you? Goodbye to £150m? You’re not going to get £150m from the Champions League.
“The biggest antidote to chaos is a strong Premier League. That’s what you strive for 20 years trying to do.”