Premiership's Champions League clubs in the money

The top four clubs in England are set to enjoy a new European pay-day that will enable them to pull further away from their domestic rivals.

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The cost of the UK broadcasting rights for the Champions League is expected to rise by more than 25% - and much of that will be passed on to those English clubs that qualify for the group stage of the competition.

UEFA's deadline for bids for the rights passed today with the BBC, ITV, Sky and Setanta all understood to have thrown their hats into the ring.

Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool earned between £15million and £27million from their share of TV rights, sponsorship cash and prize money last season.

The current ITV and Sky deals are understood to be worth just under £90million a year, and it is thought that the successful bidders will have to pay around £125million to clinch the next deal, which is to run from 2009 to 2012.

However, Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group, said any extra disparity will be offset by the huge value of the Premier League television contracts - the current deals which run until 2010 are worth £2.2billion.

Jones said: "It is going to mean more money for those clubs participating in the Champions League although it is not an exact relationship between the value of the broadcasting deals and the clubs' income.

"It does mean that the gap between those in the Champions League and the rest will grow, but the extent of that will be very much offset by the increase in Premier League rights which is spread across all 20 clubs.

"I don't expect it to make a massive difference to our domestic market because there is already a gap, and that should not change dramatically."

Jones said the real differences would be seen in clubs whose domestic broadcast rights were not as valuable.

"For the likes of Turkey, Scotland and Holland, the Champions League is a much bigger proportion of their revenue," he said.

Jones believes UEFA will try to keep their policy of having one free-to-air broadcaster - ITV and BBC - and one pay-TV channel - Sky or Setanta.

He said: "UEFA have enjoyed great exposure to terrestrial viewers through ITV and will want to maintain that. The great thing for them is to have this competition between the broadcasters because that should push up the price they can charge."

The BBC, however, will have to persuade UEFA that they can overcome the hurdle of not carrying advertising from UEFA's partners - currently ITV and Sky show the adverts at the beginning and end of each break.

It has been suggested that the BBC may have to pay an extra £10million if they do not carry advertising, and still promise to ensure sponsors' logos are prominently displayed.

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