Richard Scudamore's Legacy: Best league in the world or live sport for those who can afford it?

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 19 November 2018, 14:03

On a dreary Monday in November there’s no better way to shake of winter blues than the glow of sporting success.

Coming off the back of last weekend it really should feel like the warmth of spring thanks to stirring victories for England’s football, rugby and cricket teams.

And as the weather turned colder and the nights drew in a little more it would have been particularly cheering to gather round the TV and watch some of it.

Only it wasn’t possible unless you were subscribed to Sky TV. The nation at large was denied free-to-air access to all three of our major sporting teams because each in turn has been hived off to satellite telly for a high price.

For those who can’t afford to pay that bit extra to have live sport beamed into their living room it’s like being back in the 1940s, relying on highlights packages, radio or God forbid archaic newspapers to paint a picture of what went on.

England’s football team was only playing at Wembley, just outside central London.

Yet the sale of the new Nations League to Sky means many fans couldn’t share the moment when Gareth Southgate’s men exacted revenge on Croatia with a 2-1 comeback win that mirrors the heartbreaking semi-final defeat at the World Cup in the summer.

The Red Roses of the rugby union side fought from behind against Japan to claim their first win of the popular Autumn Internationals.

The cricket team’s 57-run win secured a first Series win in Sri Lanka since 2001, the first away from home under new skipper Joe Root - an all round memorable performance.

But to join in the party you had to pay more for the invitation.

Perhaps this is the real legacy of departing Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore.

The Bristol City fan who took the Premier League to a whole new level after joining from the Football League in 1999, is being given a £5 million golden goodbye as he ‘retires’.

It’s to stop him from jumping ship to one of the Premier League’s main rivals but in essence it is a kiss-off and a severance package that most of us won’t earn in our entire working lives.

It’s billed as his ‘legacy’ but maybe a more fitting epitaph to the Scudamore years is that top flight football in England has never been further out of reach from ordinary fans as it is now.

The biggest clubs couldn’t wait to jump into bed with Sky along with Scudamore who for all his grounding at Bristol City, one of our earthiest clubs, lost touch completely with the grass roots.

As a result, Premier League football is now shown all over the world but it overblown and over-rated, with pyrotechnics greeting the teams on the first day of the season as Southampton walked out to play Burnley.

Rugby and Cricket have followed the business model Scudamore set in place in football.

The Beeb’s historic love affair with live cricket started in 1938 and ended in divorce 60 years later with a shared deal between Channel Four and Sky.

Sky now has exclusive rights on Test matches for the next six years and in Rugby the Autumn Internationals until 2020.

Scudamore has been at it for 20 years and football in particular is at a point where the clubs openly tell the supporters they don’t need them anymore because the TV cash pays the wages.

It’ll be coming to a rugby or a cricket ground near you soon.

Cough up or miss out. Scudamore won’t have a problem paying for his Sky subscription. It probably comes free but with a seven figure sum to keep him happy in his dotage, he won’t have to worry about affording Sky Sports from one month to the next.

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