EFL Agenda

A NEW TV deal with Sky, stronger teams, more substitutes, and an earlier transfer-window were all on the agenda at a recent EFL meeting.

The EFL called the meeting of all 72 members clubs to give detail on a new five-year £600m TV deal for domestic broadcast rights with Sky and to canvass opinion on a variety of topics for future discussion at the annual summer policy-making meeting next year. 

Chief executive Martyn Starnes attended the meeting on behalf of Argyle. 

He said: “One of the things that the EFL wanted to brief us about was the new broadcasting deal, summarizing how the deal had been reached and what it would mean to clubs in terms of future revenue. 

“It’s a substantially better deal. Maybe some people were hoping for a bit more but I think we’re getting to the stage in the market-place where the monies that are available to us are flattening out a little bit. 

“BT and Sky are obviously the main players in sport and they presumably have got only a certain pot of money to spread across all the sporting rights, which is football, but it’s also golf and cricket and other sports.” 

Among the issues on which the EFL was seeking opinions from clubs was whether or not the EFL should fall into line with a recent Premier League decision to close the summer transfer-window before the beginning of the season. At the moment, it shuts at the end of August.

Martyn said: “As soon as the Premier League came to that decision, I think it was inevitable that the EFL would discuss it and there was a lot of support.

“The one caveat was to keep the loan window open until the end of August. The theory behind that is that the Premier League would have a chance to sort out who they were prepared to let out on loan and the EFL clubs could go out and get those loan players.

“My own view on that is that people will take as long as you give them to make decisions, and if you close the loan window before our season starts, the Premier League clubs would have to make their decision anyway.”

The current system appears not to enable managers, like Pilgrims’ gaffer Derek Adams, to use their playing budget to maximum effect and sort out a settled squad by the time the season kicks off. 

Martyn said: “Certainly, managers that I have spoken to would prefer to have all that business done before the season starts even though they know that, once the season is, underway, they can’t make any changes.”

In a cut-throat market, where players and their agents are seeking maximum returns, an open transfer-window can be an unwelcome distraction from the business of playing. 

Martyn said: “This season, having got promoted, we increased the budget substantially – it’s a competitive budget for the division. We have a higher budget than a number of clubs in the league, but lower than some others.” 

“Sometimes, that can be very frustrating if you get outbid for a player you really want. 

“We look at the finances. Everyone knows we run this club prudently. We have got ourselves into a strong financial position relative to where we were five or six years ago and we intend to maintain that.

“The manager is very much part of the discussions in terms of what we can pay to players and he very much determines what that structure looks like once we’ve got a global figure in what we can use. 

“We have got a good squad together and we’ve been very unfortunate in some of the games we’ve had so far. Derek and the players are working very hard to put that right.” 

Other matters under discussion for further debate included attempting to prevent teams from putting out weakened sides towards the end of a season and increasing the number of substitutes that can be used from three to four or five.

Martyn said: “The League are looking to have a rule come in whereby, after the last round of matches in March, teams have got play 10 players that featured in the 18 of the previous game. The indicative vote from the clubs is that they would support that. 

“There wasn’t the suggestion that there should be more [substitutes] on the bench, so much as could more of the substitutes be used? The indicative vote was that there wasn’t a huge appetite for that and it should stay as three.”