HomeInsightsGovernment publishes Competition Act 1998 (Football Broadcasting Rights) (Public Policy Exclusion) Order 2021

Article by

The Order has been made under paragraph 7 of Schedule 3 of the Competition Act 1998, which allows the Secretary of State to exclude from the Chapter I and Chapter II prohibitions certain categories of agreement due to exceptional and compelling reasons of public policy. The Order allows the Premier League to renew its current broadcast agreements with current UK broadcast partners for an additional three-year period starting 2022-23, without conducting the normal tender process.

The Premier League requested the Exclusion Order because it said that the football pyramid had suffered “significant financial losses at every level as a result of COVID 19 with existential challenges faced by many clubs and stakeholders”. Under normal circumstances, absent COVID-19, the Premier League would have re-tendered its domestic broadcast rights in early 2021 at the midpoint of the current three-year cycle. Following consultation, the Government recognised that the pandemic had had a significant impact on the value of broadcast rights for football across Europe and that, under an auction, it was plausible that the value of the Premier League’s domestic rights could drop. Accordingly, it agreed to grant the Exclusion Order sought.

Article 3 of the Order excludes from the application of the Chapter I prohibition an agreement between the Premier League clubs, the Premier League and the current broadcasting rights holders, or a decision adopted by the Premier League, to renew any of the existing domestic broadcasting rights agreement so that it applies on substantially the same terms to broadcasting rights for one or more of the 2022 to 2025 Premier League football seasons, without a competitive tender process being carried out.

Article 4 excludes from the application of the Chapter II prohibition the renewal of any of the existing agreements between the Premier League and a current broadcasting rights holder relating to football broadcasting rights so that it applies on substantially the same terms to broadcasting rights for the 2022 to 2025 Premier League football seasons, without a competitive tender process being carried out.

The Order will come into force on 7 November 2021. Article 5 provides that the Order expires at the earlier of the end of the period of 14 days after the last match played in the 2024 to 2025 Premier League football season or the end of 31 July 2025. To access the legislation, click here.