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Clubs count huge cost of axed TV deal

PREMIER League clubs are facing a massive £564million black hole in their finances after the top flight’s largest overseas TV deal with China was scrapped two years early.

The league has made the call to end their agreement with Suning Holdings after a dispute over broadcaster PPTV’s failure to pay a £160m rights fee that was due in March.

That means they will suffer an immediate £300m loss but the long-term problems will be more severe, leaving top-flight clubs — already struggling during the coronavirus crisis — further out of pocket.

‘The Premier League confirms it has today terminated its agreements for Premier League coverage in China with its licensee in that territory,’ a statement read.

The proposal to extend the PPTV contract for a further three years has also been dropped as the Premier League opens the door to a new Chinese broadcast partner.

Meanwhile, clubs agreed to return to three substitutions, rather than five, at yesterday’s shareholders meeting.

For the restart last season, five changes were allowed with matchday squads increased from 18 to 20 but those numbers have now reverted to previous allowances. Players are unlikely to have Black Lives Matter badges on their shirts when action resumes for the new season, although they still will be free to take a knee if they wish as an anti-racism plan is put together.

The meeting also agreed the preferred option is to play the season out to a conclusion if there was to be a second wave of Covid-19 but a curtailment plan has not yet been finalised.

And progress has been made in talks over whether all matches will be televised until fans are allowed back in to grounds, following calls from the government on Tuesday.

Currently, 160 of the 380 games are not scheduled to be shown live on TV while plans are in place to begin the gradual reintroduction of supporters from next month.