Six rounds of Ekstraklasa behind us this season so far and with all these transfer gossip nonsense over, there is new topic to comment on for sports media in Poland and everyone involved in football here. As always when money is involved, the clubs will get greedy, fans will get angry, the federation will look for possible income and the League board will call the sums. It's fight for Ekstraklasa' TV rights and I predict a saga. Once again.
The current deal ends with this season and was worth almost 100 million Euros which was great one for the clubs and less for the Canal+ - they payed that much for football that most definitely not worth that much. Sub-license belongs to Orange Sport and they show five games live while Canal+ choose the most interesting three and covers it, also delivering three proper shows during the weekend - on Friday a league starter, on Saturday with one pundit mostly highlights of the games played so far and on Sunday, the longest one, mostly about talking, discussion with guests and pundits. Also, Public TV has the package of four chosen by them games to show during the season. Canal+ shows the league for ten years and they do it better every season, introducing HD technology, showing even one game in 3D. Great commentators, shows and money for the clubs (often being the main reason they still exist). On the other hand, Orange started their 'career' in football from sponsoring the whole league and Ekstraklasa show on regular television. Then they made a deal with Canal+ and are showing part of the games on their two flag channels.
Both, Canal+ and Orange Sport are, of course, coded stations/platforms and You have to pay to watch them. The best game are watched by average 100,000 subscribers but the numbers go higher on special occasions (like Legia - Lech). For Canal+, the Ekstraklasa is flag offer and it is the main reason why people choose them (and they show the best leagues in Europe, live). Orange Sport is less known station, rising and getting better and better reception.
Like I said earlier, last deal was worth around 100 million Euros and this time clubs expect no less than this. Of course other TV stations will get involved but probably nobody, apart from the two already broadcasting Polish league, will be ready to pay as much as Canal+ and Orange Sport. The clubs got greedy before even the battle for the rights started and said that, if offer won't be satisfying, they will run their own channel, Ekstraklasa TV and look for subscribers and TV platforms ready to buy the rights to it from them. Public TV will stick with their package and still show the league four times a season, also adding pathetic league show every Sunday (late) night.
This year it will be 'two horses race' between Canal+ and Orange Sport probably ending like it was three years ago with maybe small differences. Yesterday, one of newspapers revealed that the latter channel is ready to pay 3/4 of the current, ending deal. This, of course, is not the sum expected by clubs.
The clubs however, have a great card in their hand - upcoming EURO 2012. What comes with it, four great new stadiums and at least a dozen of others in the top two divisions where arenas are under construction and will be ready pretty soon. Many should be interested in showing the league where average attendance will rise at least twice (and that's pessimistic) and whole business' income will also get higher than current 100 millions Euro for a year. Clubs still don't care that the level of football is worse than average with our teams struggling every year in Champions League qualification. They offer big stadiums, large fan bases and word that everything is going in the right direction - TV's will take it and are ready to pay a lot for it.
The status quo will be maintained while the fans have to take the crap that part of the money will go to rise the youth academies and all the points that are hold in license prepared by federation and Ekstraklasa. But the truth is, the money will not got for academies, base, training grounds or anything like that - only on current needs, (too) high players contracts, signing foreign players not raising Polish talents. Until the League or Polish FA will do something to actually check if the money is spend in the right way, we will have to watch football that is great outside - big stadiums, great fan base, tradition and history but the level still will be average and our football to many will be a mystery.