Sky quietly retains its grip on football

It has been a week when big football stories have broken like machine gun fire in the media. From the selection of Steve McClaren as the next England manager, to the apparent devastation of the Spurs team by a dodgy lasagne; from Sven's addition of 17-year-old Theo Walcott to the England World Cup squad, to a star's brawl outside a London nightclub.

But amid this cacophony, perhaps the most significant story of all - BSkyB's dominance of football TV rights - has passed with a barely perceptible fizzle. It is a PR and public affairs triumph to top them all.

Regularly, for more than a decade, the media have trotted out the same story - 'Sky's soccer monopoly to be challenged by the EU' - as Eurocrats have briefed journalists of their determination to rip apart the satellite broadcaster's stranglehold on live games.

But it has never happened. Indeed at the beginning of this week, the news that Sky had won four of the six Premiership rights packages most recently up for grabs rarely even made a page lead. Sky's media minders had already done the groundwork in briefing the business and media pages in the run-up.

From a public affairs perspective, Murdoch's men had done a more fundamental job. OK, so two of the packages went to rival broadcaster Setanta, but the Irish broadcaster's games will not be in the sought-after Sunday afternoon slots - and most people will probably access Setanta through Sky's platform.

Some analysts initially feared that Sky had scored an own goal by paying 27 per cent more than it did three years ago, for more games, but the firm's share price eventually closed on Monday just 1p down.

Communications-wise, a raft of big-hitters have moved through Sky's ranks over the years, from Tim Allan and Julian Eccles to current incumbent Matthew Anderson, latterly EMEA head of Ogilvy PR Worldwide. Their performances have quietly kept Sky in the champions' league.

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