AHEAD OF THE GAME: 'Big Six' plan to sell games to overseas fans

AHEAD OF THE GAME: ‘Big Six’ clubs are pushing for the right to sell matches direct to overseas fans… while Roy Hodgson tells Crystal Palace to resolve player contract issues before opening talks over his own deal

  • ‘The Premier League’s Big Six’ want to sell matches direct to overseas fans
  • The request for clubs to be given exclusive rights was part of Project Big Picture 
  • Roy Hodgson will not begin new contract talks until players’ futures are sorted

The ‘Big Six’ clubs are pushing for the right to sell matches direct to fans in overseas countries, as the Premier League test the market ahead of the next television rights auction.

A request for clubs to be given exclusive rights to sell eight matches per season to international territories, which would be broadcast on their own channels, was part of the controversial Project Big Picture reform proposals tabled last year.

It has been repeated in discussions over the Premier League’s Strategic Review.

The ‘Big Six’ clubs are pushing for the right to sell matches direct to fans in overseas countries

The elite clubs are not demanding the right to sell ‘Big Six’ clashes as that would severely undermine the value of the central TV deal, but want to explore the potential of direct-to-fan sales, a model also being considered by UEFA for the Champions League. 

The smaller clubs remain to be convinced of the merits of such an approach as they have smaller global fan-bases and their matches are likely to be less lucrative. They may be forced to give ground, however, to prevent more radical reforms such as a reduced Premier League or an overhaul of voting rights being implemented. 

The Premier League’s tender process for the next domestic rights deal covering the 2022 to 2025 seasons has been put on hold due to the pandemic, and is not expected to take place until the summer, when it is hoped there will be more clarity on the return of fans.

The request for exclusive rights was part of the controversial plans in Project Big Picture


Roy Hodgson has told Crystal Palace to resolve the contract issues affecting the majority of his squad before opening talks over a new deal of his own. 

Palace have 16 first-team squad members out of contract at the end of the season and Hodgson wants their futures resolved before addressing his own position. 

Hodgson would want to keep the majority of his squad intact were he to commit to extending his stay at Selhurst Park into a fifth season.

Palace appear content to play a waiting game, which has led to the current stasis regarding Hodgson’s future.


The FA ban given to former Roc Nation managing director Sam Stapleton, as revealed by Sportsmail last week, was the result of an illegal approach made to Charlie McNeil, a junior England international who left Manchester City’s academy last year to join Manchester United. 

Stapleton was banned for six weeks — reduced to two on appeal — last summer for what the FA described as a ‘serious safeguarding breach’ after contacting McNeil at City’s training ground offering to represent him. 

McNeil’s existing agent warned Stapleton off after being alerted to the alleged breach of FA rules, but then showed remarkable magnanimity to provide him with a character reference at his disciplinary hearing after receiving an apology.

McNeil, 17, was highly-rated at City, but as a United fan opted to sign his first pro contract at Old Trafford last year after also being targeted by Red Bull Leipzig.

The FA ban given to former Roc Nation managing director Sam Stapleton was a result of an illegal approach made to former Man City youngster Charlie McNeil (left) 


One of the peculiarities of the FA’s new post-Brexit work permit guidelines is that overseas coaches who have gained a Governing Body Exemption (GBE) are allowed to appoint only one foreign assistant manager. 

As a result, new Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel was forced to choose which of his two key lieutenants would be given the title of assistant following his appointment at Stamford Bridge last month, with Arno Michels taking that job title and Zsolt Low appointed as a coach. 

Before Britain left the European Union, there were no such restrictions in place, with both Maurizio Sarri and Antonio Conte appointing multiple assistants during their time in charge of Chelsea. 

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