Soccer-Flush with cash, Premier League wants to curb spending

LONDON Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:34am EST

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LONDON Nov 15 (Reuters) - English Premier League soccer clubs discussed plans on Thursday to ensure that a huge injection of cash from broadcasters around the world ushers in an era of greater financial stability.

Having secured a domestic television deal worth one billion pounds ($1.6 billion) per season from 2013 - a 70 percent increase - the Premier League has since negotiated a series of improved overseas agreements including one with NBC in the United States.

That has fuelled optimism that total overseas income will comfortably beat the total of more than 1.3 billion pounds generated in the three-year cycle that ends in 2013.

The trick now for England's top 20 teams is to ensure that all that money does not translate straight into higher wages for players and their agents.

Player wages ate up 70 percent of record Premier League revenues in 2010-11, according to a study by business services group Deloitte, leaving very little over in terms of profit.

Measures to ensure clubs move towards break-even, known as "Financial Fair Play", have been agreed for Europe's top teams and were on the agenda when Premier League clubs met in London on Thursday.

"We are supportive of proposals broadly mirroring Financial Fair play which obviously we abide by already," Manchester United executive vice chairman Ed Woodward said as the club presented its financial results on Wednesday.

Woodward said there was an "historic link" between rising revenues and player wages but believed it could be contained.

"We will continue to maintain a careful control over our player wage inflation," he said.

OVERSEAS APPEAL

The Premier League outperforms other European leagues in the amounts it generates for global TV rights.

It has not so far commented on how much it has raised from the latest overseas deals - with some clubs wary of flaunting their wealth ahead of the January transfer window.

However, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore was expected to strike a positive note on progress in the talks with clubs on Thursday.

English soccer's rich history combined with the cosmopolitan nature of many of its top clubs help to explain its appeal internationally.

Last season's dramatic climax when Manchester City pipped local rivals United to the title on goal difference will also have helped to promote sales.

"The global TV rights explosion the Premier League has discussed today has been driven by England's heritage and connections with so many countries around the world," said Andrea Radrizzani, CEO of media company MP & Silva.

"The product values are high with great end-to-end football being played by the top teams," added Radrizzani, an Italian whose company manages and distributes TV rights for sports events around the globe. ($1 = 0.6310 British pounds) (Editing by Clare Fallon)

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