As rights are worth millions, the last Sky

As the competition standard increases and becomes national, the organisation running and looking after it must to be national. In both football and hockey most of the elite and international side of things is dealt with by the NGB. Although these are similarities there’s definitely no similarity in the level of interest at professional level. Football national leagues are completely professional due to the commercialisation of the game and its huge spectator appeal. In both hockey and football teams filter through from the county leagues to regional and onto national leagues.

The lowest national football league is the conference but even in this league plays earn a wage, clubs can afford it with revenue from ticket sales, prize money from competitions like the FA cup, merchandise and sponsorship. As we look further up the divisions money from all these things is multiplied. In addition TV and media coverage is a big deal at this level, TV contracts for match rights are worth millions, the last Sky contract from 97-01 with the FA Barclaycard premiership was in the region of 650 million.

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Comparing this with the same level in hockey, teams still struggle for financial support, a little money is made from supporters at the game but theres not enough interest in the sport to charge for entry into games. For some national league clubs to survive players are still asked for membership fees this would be unheard of in premiership football. I’ve talked a little about the Premier league and funding available here, but now I’m going to look at the clubs in more detail. Records show that between them in 2002 the 20 clubs made in excess of billion income.

From this table we can see that there big amounts of money changing hands but not vast amount of profits. Football is seen as the ‘peoples game’ this means success is craved for the national team but also due to the mass media coverage of the sport there’s demands for an excellent grassroots set up by a large majority of the population. The nation wants football, which brings money from all different areas; both public and private investment is available.

To an entrepreneur football is big business. A good example of this is the take over of Chelsea by the millionaire and already successful business man Roman Abraovich. The huge popularity of the sport and now in the era of commercialisation means there’s a massive audience for advertisement. If you look at the professional game these sponsorship everywhere, every team has a kit sponsor, all the leagues are sponsored (the FA Barclaycard Premiership, the coco-cola championship) even the players are sponsored.

Sponsorship in hockey injects much needed money into the set up but it this is tiny amounts in comparison with football, due to football attracting a much wider audience. From 2000-03 the English Hockey League (EHL) was sponsored by ‘Harrold UK’ for �35,000 this was readily accepted by England Hockey as it is a large sum of money for the game.

The press and media have been an important aspect of Britain’s sports culture for a long time. In the 1930’s one in six pages of the Sunday papers were devoted to sport and in 1995 a staggering 46% of the ‘Daily Mirror’ was sport orientated. But in the mid 1950’s another form of sporting media arose, that offered something newspapers couldn’t; live action. This was of course television. Even at this point in time football dominated coverage. Major event such as the FA cup final and the world cup final were special and so broadcasted live, with highlights for other matches being included in sports news.

The media network has evolved rapidly. With the introduction of satellite and cable it’s now possible to receive channels that are dedicated entirely to football and generate twenty four hour viewing. The audience is so big the FA even has partners overseas that work with the company with the televising rights to distribute footage globally. There is no hockey channel, even on sports channels such as ‘Sky Sports’ and ‘Eurosport’ it’s rarely even mentioned in news bulletins and almost unheard of for a match to be televised.

Football on the contrary is fighting off competition for media attention. Big commercial companies like ‘Sky’ have the revenue to buy the rights to certain events for example the Premiership, these deals are so significant; they represent the major part of the FA’s income. Due to the fierce market and the time it takes up in the schedule football on terrestrial TV is becoming a unusual, live football that is. But to meet the demand of the viewing public a new kind of show has emerged, where the focus is not just on the reporting of matches and results but on the analysis. One example of this would be ‘Football Focus’ on the ‘BBC’ this is an hour programme, with a panel of experts who discuss current issues; they cover struggling managers to the state of the national team.

It could be said that this in this type of format the focus has shifted from the team to the individual. This is the route the newspapers have also had to take, this alternative view secure an audience because it takes them out of competition with live coverage. They are trying to provide in-depth analysis and interviews, in the case of the broadsheets. Some time ago it would have been unlike that football would have played much part inside a broadsheet.

This would have been mainly due the class system and footballs label as the working class game, but now such is the fashoinability of football its enjoyed by everyone, and therefore is provide for in the broadsheets. In the case of the tabloids they look for the behind-the-scenes story. It is this approach that creates the personalities in sport, especially in football which is really only down to the sheer amount of exposure to the public; stars are constantly in the press. If I was to ask a member of the public to name one elite hockey player it’s extremely unlike they would be able to do so because it’s quite possible to go a year without one hockey story in the national press.

One way people can access hockey news is through magazines like the world hockey magazine and Hockey Sport. But the main difference between these and football magazines, besides being fewer in number and in audience they are produce by governing bodies. This doesn’t always make for the best or most interesting reading. There are hundreds of examples of football magazines covering all different aspects of the sport; grassroots, coaching, development, specific teams and international competitions. Ten years ago there were no genuine football magazines for adults; they were only produced for the children’s market. But now with the relatively new idea of a ‘male’ magazine football coverage in print has increased. The idea of this magazines is to clump together all the stereotypical male interests into one magazine, this will included football, cars, women etc.

In addition to print, television another source of sporting media is radio. The main stations are ‘Talk sport’ and ‘BBC Five Live’. ‘Five Lives’ slogan is “the home of live sport” and this is the feature of these stations, providing live commentary and report results; the old fashioned role of the media. Football is the core sport for most sports radio broadcasting. ‘Five Live’ for example has live commentary almost every night of the week. Here just as with the newspapers there is little mention of hockey, barring outrageous situations or stories. The majority of other radio stations air news and sport bulletins. If we look at BBC radio one the larger proportion of their sports stories are football related, this is true of most station; sport is increasingly becoming football.

With the great advances in technology there are more and more ways to access sport news. The internet has thousands of websites that offer football results, fixtures, statistics and facts. Using a search engine on the internet with football in the UK as the specification over 7 million sites are retrieved. In comparison if we do the same thing for hockey there a mere 1 million results and its also possible a significant number of these are orientated around ice hockey. The technology is such now that its possible to view matches over a broadband connection, this is a new idea but there are already companies set up to provide the service, ‘’ are striving to make video or live broadcast on demand of your favourite team anywhere in the world possible.

Another plan that had the potential to revolutionise football further was the media buying into clubs or in fact taking them over. In 1999 the satellite operator ‘BSkyB’ attempted to take over Man United Football Club with a bid worth over �600 million. This offer was blocked by the government is it was deemed to have the to potential to corrupt the sport. But in the future it’s not unlikely that more deals like this could be offered, it’s a question of how long the sport can withstand this pressure. The AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has a vision for an extensive media network he said “One day coverage of football will be so wide-ranging that we will have to let the fans into the stadium free of charge.”