Sky Sports bowed to the demands of the Premier League by not asking Chelsea boss Frank Lampard about the resumption of the football season.
Sportsmail reported on Sunday that the Premier League have blocked broadcasting giants Sky Sports and BT Sport from asking questions about the future of the current season or the impact of the suspension on players.
And on Monday morning, Sky Sports spoke to Lampard on their new ‘Live: The Football Show’ but made sure not to quiz the Chelsea manager on those contentious issues.
Frank Lampard was interviewed by Sky Sports on their new ‘Live: The Football Show’
Sky Sports’ David Jones, Jamie Redknapp and Gary Neville made sure not to ask Chelsea boss Lampard about when the season will resume
Lampard instead fielded questions on the difficulty of the coronavirus suspension, whether his Chelsea players are being left to their own devices, reflecting on the club’s progress so far this season, and the brilliant emergence of Billy Gilmour.
Sky Sports ensured they listened to the Premier League’s demands after being warned there would be punishments if they didn’t adhere to the rules.
Sky, who paid £1.19billion for the right to broadcast games this season, and BT, who paid £325m, have been told all access to managers and players will be revoked if the Premier League’s guidelines are not followed, despite there being no matches to show during the shutdown.
All clubs have agreed to provide their manager for interview every four weeks and a player every two weeks as the broadcasters are desperate for content with the sporting schedule frozen.
However, the access comes with considerable caveats, so all questions relating to the impact of the shutdown have been banned.
Sky Sports and BT Sport have been blocked from asking about the resumption of football
In an email sent to Sky Sports staff seen by Sportsmail, the company’s management emphasise the pressure they are under from the Premier League to stick to rules they agreed to during negotiations last week.
‘It’s clear that the Premier League will revoke access if we do not stick to these guidelines,’ the email states. ‘The interviews have been agreed on the grounds that they are part of the football contract; access is intended to be fun and relaxed.’
Sky’s management go on to list examples of questions deemed off limits, including any mention of voiding the season, whether games should be played behind closed doors, furloughing or salary cuts and even the implications for Liverpool’s attempt to win their first title in 30 years.
‘Clubs are extremely nervous about putting anyone up (for interview) at the moment so we must stick to the following processes,’ the email states.
‘We should avoid “news” interviews as much as possible.’
The broadcasting giants’ will be punished if they don’t follow the Premier League’s guidelines
Sky Sports are the Premier League’s longest-running and biggest broadcast partner, and paid £3.57billion for their three-year rights package, more than a third of the overall global deal.
There are over £370m worth of live matches still to be shown by Sky Sports this season, which has led to fears they will demand a refund if the season is voided or takes place behind closed doors.
But the Premier League’s willingness to dictate such restrictive terms to the broadcaster suggests the clubs must be confident that a rebate can be avoided.
Sky are even more in need of material than rival domestic rights-holder BT Sport, because they also operate the 24-hours news channel Sky Sports News, whose usual staple of daily managerial press conferences has disappeared.