English Premier League

US$6.5 million ‘golden handshake’ for Premier League boss Richard Scudamore is an insult to fans and grass roots

  • Club chairmen reportedly unhappy at being asked by Chelsea chairman to contribute US$325,000 each for gift
  • Figure, which is double his annual wage, has outraged fans
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2018, 3:23pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2018, 3:23pm

When it comes to gifts, it’s the thought that counts.

If that’s the case then the plan to give outgoing English Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore £5 million (US$6.15 million) is utterly thoughtless.

That is his reported “golden handshake” after 19 years in charge of the English top flight, a scheme that has been thought up by Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck.

He has asked his fellow chairmen, from the 19 other Premier League clubs, to cough up £250,000 (US$325,000) each and hand it to Scudamore as a token of their gratitude.

Scudamore has made Buck and his ilk very rich indeed. The current TV rights deal for the UK and Ireland was for £5.14 billion, the richest in football history, and global rights are on top of that.

The television payday means English Premier League clubs are now among the richest in world football and most profitable across all sports.

Thanks to Scudamore’s success, the Premier League does not have fat cats so much as morbidly obese, but they are not into being milked of their money.

Reports in the English press suggest several clubs are far from happy but the BBC suggests it is expected to be agreed upon and they will all pay up.

As parting gifts go, cash is pretty crass and to make it seem even more meretricious, it’s not like Scudamore needs it. The executive chairman is reported to have earned£26.3 million over his time at Premier League towers.

What was Buck thinking? That the story would not get out? Did he just not care?

It’s a staggering amount of money, even in football. Certainly enough for people to question the wisdom of such a payment when many are living on their knees.

No wonder this has got fans riled, with many resorting to language more suited to the terraces.

It should be made clear that Scudamore has not asked for this and it is not an initiative from the Premier League itself, but still it reflects badly on them when they had a chance for some positive PR.

Susanna Dinnage has been hired as his replacement, an appointment that Buck was involved in, but that announcement has been lost in the maelstrom.

Dinnage arrives from Discovery, where she headed Animal Planet, and will become one of the most powerful women in sport when she assumes the role.

It has not been reported what her leaving gift was.

Glibness aside, that was a story for the Premier League to own. And as own goals go, this is spectacular, like that Festus Baise scorpion kick.

Fans have seen ticket prices rise dramatically over the 19 years of Scudamore’s tenure, even though there are Premier League clubs that would still make a profit even if they gave away all of their tickets for free.

It’s cheaper to go to the English National Opera than to a Premier League match. Those who can find the money are reminded they are the fortunate few.

Supporters groups at many Premier League clubs including Manchester United, Everton, Liverpool and Newcastle United operate food banks for the needy in their communities.

Fans of those clubshave been particularly vociferous in their disgust at the potential payment and quick to point out that £250,000 would go a long way to help those in need.

While the clubs have never been richer, food banks are a sign the country is worse off than ever.

Contrary to the free-spending Premier League clubs, the British government has had an economic policy of austerity since 2015.

Handily, 250,000 would buy you an all-weather 4G pitch that is perfect for grass roots football.

That would be a legacy fitting for Scudamore, a man who has delivered English football to billions and brought billions into the bank balances of English clubs.

Maybe one of the other clubs will have the sense to tell Buck his tone-deaf plan stops here.

They could even put it towards paying all of their staff the living wage, something that Scudamore said was not “clubs’ responsibilities” in 2015.

Premier League clubs have paid all permanent staff the living wage since 2016 but right now only four pay the “real living wage”, a figure higher than the government’s baseline, to all their staff including contract workers and casual employees.

Maybe Chelsea’s chairman and his fellow suits could spare a thought for them.