SPFL deal with Sky allows top-flight clubs to stream home games
Fans of clubs in Scottish soccer's top-tier Premiership will be able to buy a virtual season ticket to watch home games next season while stadia remain closed off to fans amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Scottish Professional Football League and its exclusive domestic broadcast partner from 2020-21, pay-TV operator Sky, unveiled details of the revolutionary coverage today, as the pair agreed terms that provide a framework for the top flight to resume in August.
The 12 Scottish Premiership clubs will be permitted to stream home matches on their own platforms and sell access to existing season ticket-holders until fans are allowed to return to grounds.
The virtual season ticket will provide vital revenue to the 12 Scottish Premiership clubs, which will miss out on gate receipts.
It is unclear if clubs will be able to sell one-off matches or whether the virtual passes will be available to non-season ticket-holders.
Sky has exclusive live rights in the UK to the Scottish Premiership for five seasons from 2020-21, paying around £30 million ($37.7 million) per year. It said today it will show 48 games live in August.
Sky shared rights with rival BT Sport in deals worth close to £20 million per year until the end of the 2019-20 season, which was officially terminated on 18 May because of the pandemic.Sky and the SPFL also announced today they have agreed to "spread the financial settlement for the games unable to be completed in season 2019-20 across the term of the new five-year contract, providing security and financial stability to the competition and its clubs."
It is understood that figure comes to around £1.5 million over five years.
Neil Doncaster, chief executive of the SPFL, said: “This is an innovative and pragmatic solution to the challenges posed by Covid-19 and I’m grateful for the flexibility shown by our clubs and by Sky Sports.
“This agreement means that any liability for games not delivered during season 2019/20 has now been settled, on terms that reflect Sky’s status as a committed partner and supporter of Scottish football.”
Rob Webster, managing director of Sky Sports, added: “Sky Sports is proud of our long-standing relationship with Scottish football and we have been committed to finding a positive solution for the SPFL and clubs. The virtual season ticket for the 2020-21 season is an innovative way to maintain the connection with fans and provide economic stability for the clubs, and we are very happy to support it.
“The new season promises to be a unique experience for the Scottish Premiership and our approach is to be as flexible and supportive of the clubs as we can be in these unique times.”
Based on average points per game, Celtic, 13 points clear of Glasgow rivals Rangers when the league was suspended in March, were declared Scottish Premiership champions for the ninth year running, while Hearts were relegated.
However, there could yet be a reprieve for Hearts with the Edinburgh-based club having been given approval to devise a proposal for temporary league reconstruction that would include the expansion of the top division.Sportcal