ONCE upon a time, the maneuvring that went on behind the scenes of international sport stayed behind the scenes.

But somewhere along the lines the narrative seems to have shifted from the quest for silverware to something far less inspiring.

More and more, I seem to be hearing talk about revenue and market share in relation to the sports I love, as if I should care.

The hype surrounding the Premier League title race and which one of the European superpowers will lift the Champions League remains at fever pitch.

Yet genuine sporting stories seem to be vying with clubs' latest financial reports for space on the breaking news ticker on Sky and the BBC.

They may be significant, but do I really want to be stopped in the street by a notification flashing on my phone about landmark sponsorship agreements or multi-million pound stadium naming-rights deals.

Don’t get me wrong, if Wanderers announced they were suddenly in the money that would certainly be welcome news.

But most people have enough money worries of their own without stressing about whether their team has adopted the right business plan or marketing mix.

There is one financial battleground, however, that does pique my interest – the TV rights deal.

The BBC’s announcement this week that they have won the UK rights to the NFL is an interesting development.

It may seem irrelevant to anyone who grew up in the Premiership era, but children of the 1980s will remember when Channel 4 showed American Football highlights on a Sunday evening.

For a while it seemed to capture the imagination of the British public.

Many people of my generation will be able to trot off teams like Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins, as well as star names such as Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and William “the Refrigerator” Perry.

The sport disappeared from mainstream television around the advent of the Premiership, but the NFL marketing machine has been rolling again in the UK for the last decade and if the suits at the Premier League are not taking note, they should.

The BBC will screen three in-season games at Wembley live on a number of different platforms before starting up a regular highlights show in November.

It is a significant step that could prove to be a masterstroke for a sport that is defending an equally aggressive attack from "soccer" on home territory.

Major League Soccer is in its 20th year and the “global game” seems to be finally making headway across the Pond.

But while the Premier League is eager to cash in on the American dollar, I think they should be wary about taking their market share on home turf for granted.

English football lovers must now pay through the nose to soak up every televised game across Sky and BT.

So the fact armchair viewers have free and easy access to a sport run by the world’s savviest marketing executives should not be taken lightly.


Views from the sports desk

WHAT a fall from grace the Dutch national football team are having.

A little more than 12 months ago they were finishing third in the World Cup in Brazil and now look like missing out on a major tournament for the first time in 14 years after a 3-0 thumping by Turkey.

A change of management has not aided their cause but when you think they replaced Manchester United-bound Louis van Gaal with Guus Hiddink and more recently Danny Blind – who was part of Van Gaal’s coaching set up – has much changed?

They still have world-class talent in the shape of Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie and United summer signing Memphis Depay so what has happened?

Maybe all is not well in the camp, which would not be much of a surprise with the Netherlands, after all they have a history of players with Edam-sized egos falling out.

David Pye

ANOTHER week and another doping scandal has hit athletics.

Mo Farah and Jo Pacey have had to clear their names recently and now three-time London Marathon winner Paula Radcliffe has been implicated in a parliamentary hearing as another Brit under suspicion.

Although the 41-year-old marathon world record holder insists she has never cheated, she is being criticised for not releasing personal blood information to prove she is clean, with media outlets claiming she has invited suspicion with her lack of transparency.

However, I find myself agreeing with former 1500m world champion Steve Cram, who earlier this week said that focussing on a sensational story like this only benefits one group of people – the people who are still cheating.

Claire Cameron

IT'S a reflection of football's fickle nature that this weekend's Manchester United/Liverpool game is of local interest only.

Two comparatively fading empires have reduced what has been one of the most widely anticipated fixtures on the English calendar into a parochial affair.

Sure, the media will do its best to spice up tomorrow's tea-time spat. But realistically it's nothing more than a game between two slightly above average Premier League sides whose old rivalry has been watered down by bigger games elsewhere and an influx of foreign players and, in United's case, managers who don't get what it means to the fans.

Then again, the United/Liverpool rivalry has only lasted since the late 1970s so rates well down in the list of established English football rivalries anyway.

Neil Bonnar