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Ukraine War: Premier League Suspends 6-Year TV Rights Deal With Russian Broadcaster

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The Premier League has suspended its six-year deal with Russian broadcaster Match TV.

All 20 clubs met at the league’s annual general meeting on Thursday, June 9, 2022, and were informed the deal has been shelved due to ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

The Premier League’s deal with Match TV was due to start next season and it is not clear when the suspension will be lifted or if the deal will be axed entirely.

Russian media group Rambler had previously had the rights but saw that contract suspended by league officials back in March following Russian’s invasion of Ukraine a month prior.

Coverage of Premier League matches was initially allowed to go on in Russia following the invasion earlier this year.

But heading into a new season, and with no end to the war in Ukraine in sight, Premier League bosses have taken a firm stand ahead of the Match TV deal kicking in this summer.

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Match TV have close links to the Russian government as they are owned by Gazprom Media, and the channel was personally opened following a presidential decree by president Vladimir Putin three years ago.

Television agreements have been under review since March and at the end of the season Man City and Ukraine winger Oleksandr Zinchenko pleaded on Instagram with league officials to ‘stop the sale of rights to broadcasts of international sporting competitions to Russian media’.

Following the decision to scrap broadcasting matches in Russia in March, the Premier League announced a donation of £1 million to help people in Ukraine.

‘We call for peace and our thoughts are with all those impacted,’ the Premier League said in a statement in March.

‘The £1 million donation will be made to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to deliver humanitarian aid directly to those in need.’

Following the Premier League’s blockade on broadcasting in Russia back in March, the English Football League, EFL, followed suit as a sign of solidarity.

‘Echoing the views of the Premier League and other organisations around the world, the EFL remains deeply concerned by the ongoing conflict,’ the EFL said in a statement.

‘As has been demonstrated at EFL grounds around the country, ‘Football Stands Together’ with the people of Ukraine and all those impacted.’

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has not spoken on the issue since Thursday’s AGM in Harrogate but said it was ‘absolutely the right thing to do’ to stop broadcasting in Russia in light of the league’s decision from March.

A statement from Huddleston at the time read: ‘We fully support the Premier League’s decision to stop broadcasting matches in Russia in response to Putin’s barbaric, senseless invasion of Ukraine.

‘Russia cannot be allowed to legitimise its illegal war through sport and culture, and we must work together to ensure Putin remains a pariah on the international stage.’

Sport has rallied against Russia ever since they invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Formula One chiefs axed the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi while UEFA also stripped St Petersburg of its hosting rights for the 2021-22 Champions League final, which was transferred to Paris.

At the Wimbledon tennis championships this summer, no Russian or Belarussian players will be allowed to compete as per a decision by the All England Club.

Source: Daily Mail

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