Football leagues and NPA finally agree on rights deal

New agreement covers every aspect of newspapers’ football coverage

National newspapers have won the right to publish still pictures from live football matches on to their websites while the games are in progress, as part of a five-year-deal with the Premier and Football Leagues.

The deal, details of which have only now beenmade public,marks the end of a lengthy dispute between the football leagues and the Newspaper Publishers Association.

In October talks over agreeing a new licensing agreement broke down and national newspaper journalists faced the prospect of being locked out of grounds. Newspaper editors removed sponsorship logos from the sports pages in protest.

The 25-page agreement covers everything from access to games and what posters and other supplements newspapers can produce to rules over the manipulation and future reproduction of photos taken during games.

Under the new agreement NPA members have agreed to “seek the support of editors” in restoring references to sponsors in editorial pages to the level of before 14 October.

The leagues dropped a threatened two-hour publication delay for newspapers after the end of matches.

The other sticking point was over the use of images for “digital platforms” such as websites and mobile phones. Newspapers now have nine publication time windows during games, when a maximum of 15 pictures can be published digitally.

The new deal does not include fantasy football league games run by newspapers, from which the football leagues had lobbied for a five to seven per cent cut. These are expected to be covered by a separate agreement.

Other conditions in the new deal include: restrictions on editorial supplements sold separately from the paper; a promise from the leagues that journalists will have good access to grounds; and an assurance from papers that a “minimum level of coverage” will be provided from all grounds where they have journalists.

The National Association of Press Agencies has agreed a separate deal which also covers access over a fiveyear period for its members.

Chairman Chris Johnson said there was some concern over clauses in the new agreement over financial liability for his members over the misuse of photographs. Under the agreement agencies could be liable for thousands of pounds if their photos are published outside the terms of the licensing arrangement.

He said: “We have no problem cooperating with the football leagues in terms of communicating their conditions to publishers, but we have some misgivings about how practical it’s going to be for agencies to act as policemen.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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