There are encouraging signs for the Premier League that beIN Sport are seriously considering joining the Discovery Channel, BT Sport and Sky in a super heavyweight TV contest for the next three-year contracts when the mega offers are tabled next Friday.
BT Sport and Sky are certain bidders, while Discovery, who own Eurosport, revealed their interest in the rights a fortnight ago.
Now it has emerged that beIN have been using London sports rights specialist Mark Oliver as a consultant on the Premier League rights possibilities.
Although that is not a firm indication that the Qatar-based station will bid, it does suggest they are thinking about it. Having the world’s richest TV network involved would take the price of the 168 matches bundled in seven packages — already mooted to fetch £10million a game — further into the stratosphere.
If beIN bid, it is likely to be on their own rather than in partnership with BT Sport. That combination seemed possible when beIN let their pundit Andy Gray work as a co-commentator on BT FA Cup matches last season, an experiment that has not been repeated this campaign.
The fact ITV did not come to the table for Premier League highlights makes it all the more odd that they chose to sack lead football presenter Adrian Chiles with immediate effect last week and replace him with Premier League-friendly Mark Pougatch. The timing suggested a link with the highlights, yet ITV say Pougatch’s appointment was unconnected.
Meanwhile, the BBC’s retention of Match of the Day is not expected to stop Gary Lineker hosting BT Sport’s Champions League coverage next season, although an exclusivity clause in Lineker’s BBC contract related to the British market will have to be renegotiated.