Gartside plan could spark review
However the proposals could spark fresh calls for a change to the distribution of TV cash among top-flight clubs. Bolton chairman Phil Gartside has been working on the proposals for a two-tier league for more than a year and is concerned that too much money continues to flow into the coffers of the top four clubs. His blueprint is on the agenda for the Premier League chairmen's meeting in London, and it could lead to a review of cash distribution in the top flight. Last season, champions Manchester United earned £52.3million in Premier League television money, compared to £31.6million for bottom club West Brom. The fact that the four clubs in the Champions League also earned between £20million and £33million on top of that from European TV and prize money - and benefit from huge ticket and merchandise revenue - has led to a number of chairmen of mid and lower-ranking clubs to believe the time has come for a review. Stoke chairman Peter Coates agreed with Gartside that the English game needed reviewing but said he would not support the Old Firm proposal: He said: "We have lots of fine clubs in England to play and we have a system that has worked very well in a competitive sense. "We have 20 teams in the Premier League and they are all tough games. If Celtic and Rangers were to come in, after a while that would become the norm. It would be no big thing. I think the minuses outweigh the pluses." Another Premier League chairman told Press Association Sport: "I don't believe there is an appetite to have the Old Firm - this is all about strategy. A number of clubs are not completely happy with the way things are and this move by Phil Gartside is the first step to making things more equal." In his annual report, published last week, Gartside made it clear that he believed addressing the big differences in income was the league's greatest challenge. Gartside said: "Addressing this polarisation of clubs and the increasing revenue differentials will, I believe, be the major strategic issue for the Premier League over coming years. "The Premier League is an exciting product for supporters and for television viewers, but there is no doubt that as the years go by, and the same few clubs continue to benefit from the huge additional revenues from the Champions League, the remaining clubs find it enormously difficult to challenge. "At the same time, the gap between Premier League revenues and those of the Championship continues to widen and I believe a 'fear factor' is beginning to emerge amongst Premier League clubs outside the top few." The big clubs will oppose any major change to the status quo and will point out they have already boosted income to the smaller clubs by agreeing to every club receiving payment of facility fees for at least 10 televised matches totalling £4.8million, even if they only appear in a handful of live games on TV. They will also say that the next overseas TV deal - which is split equally among clubs - is likely to be close to £1billion, almost twice as much as the current £650million, meaning an extra £6million per club per season.
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