KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: In what be only the first of a series of shocks to the cosy football-TV relationship, the Engish Premier League has terminated its £564m contract with China’s PPTV with immediate effect.

This was the league’s largest overseas deal, worth £650m over three years. It is understood that the league acted because PPTV withheld its latest payment of £160m, due in March.

An EPL statement said: “The Premier League confirms that it has today terminated its agreements for Premier League coverage in China with its licensee in that territory. The Premier League will not be commenting further on the matter at this stage.”

Conrad Wiacek, head of Analysis and Consulting at GlobalData Sport, considered that the Chinese cancellation could be just the start of a reappraisal of the value of TV football rights.

He said: “The cancellation of the Premier League’s largest overseas TV deal may suggest that further hard times are on the way. With the next Premier League rights cycle due to begin in 2022, the league will be looking at new options in a bid to shore up its international rights portfolio.

“The league generates in excess of $9bn per rights cycle from its overseas rights, in addition to the $6bn (£5bn) domestic rights market – with the deal with PPTV its largest individual international rights deal.

“With heightened political tensions impacting UK/Chinese relations, this termination may be seen as an extension of this political battle.

“However, PPTV owners Sunning withheld a previous payment worth $160m in March 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning this is likely to be a direct impact of the pandemic.

“Suning also owns Inter Milan, who play in the Italian Serie A, and with PPTV’s deal to broadcast Serie A ending in 2021, this could be a way for PPTV to consolidate its resources into one property and territory.

“This could be an issue for the Premier League, who will be keen to ensure that their broadcast rights contracts continue to grow. If the growth cannot come from abroad, then the Premier League may be forced to make more live games available domestically, something the government is strongly pushing for.”