£1bn fund will help lower-league clubs and boost 'fan engagement', say the top-flight clubs
The 20 Premier League clubs have promised that at least £1 billion of their record television deal will be used to help clubs in the lower leagues and fans who follow England's top flight.
Richard Scudamore, the Premier League's chief executive, made the announcement after club officials had met to discuss the £5.14 billion TV deal announced last month.
"This is unprecedented in world sport," said Scudamore of the decision that should represent a rise of around 40 per cent in cash terms on the existing deal. "You can't find me another sport that is committed to this level of sharing. It's sharing in the success of English football."
Asked if all 20 clubs had agreed to dish out a £1bn slice of their pie, Scudamore replied: "Absolutely unanimous. The only issue for the clubs was whether they could at least get some recognition and some credit for doing it."
Scudamore added that he hoped the money would help alter people's perception of the Premier League as rapacious and self-obsessed. "The clubs never get enough credit for what they do," he said. "This is an element of them trying to get a bit of that ground back. There will be something people ought to be able to recognise. These are significant things and if we communicate properly, I do hope over time people will appreciate what we do."
The announcement should go some way to placating the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF), members of which gathered outside the venue of Thursday's meeting to voice their concern at ticket prices.
Before the money can be distributed, the Premier league emphasised that it will depend on a "satisfactory outcome" of Virgin Media's complaint to Ofcom over the way the rights were sold last month. That bidding process is now being investigated by the communications regulator Ofcom, the outcome of which will be known either later this year or in early 2016.
The other major announcement to come from Thursday's meeting concerned the management structure of the Premier League. It was unanimously agreed that from June onwards the board will comprise two independent non-executive directors and an executive chairman. Claudia Arney and Kevin Beeston were appointed independent non-executive directors, with Richard Scudamore assuming the responsibility of executive chairman.