City duo scores with football TV rights deal

The Euro 96 football extravaganza reaches its climax this weekend but it is the Premier League's £670 million television rights deal with BSkyB which is exercising the minds of City law firms Denton Hall and Herbert Smith.

Dentons is advising the Premier League, while the satellite television group is represented by Herbert Smith and in-house lawyers.

Outline agreement has already been reached but final documents will not be ready for signing until later this summer.

Dentons media partner Adrian Barr-Smith does not envisage any serious obstacles. “We represented the Premier League during the 1992 TV rights negotiations so many of the issues are well rehearsed,” he said.

BSkyB won the exclusive rights to screen live coverage of the nation's top soccer matches for another four years when its current agreement with the clubs expires in 1997. But the BBC is to continue to televise recorded highlights.

The satellite television operator, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, did not win the bidding war unopposed. Unsuccessful bids were tabled by two rival groups – United News & Media, advised by Berwin Leighton, and an alliance of Mirror Group and Carlton Communications, advised by Clifford Chance.

Barr-Smith, who is a close adviser to Premier League chief executive Rick Parry, said the issue of pay-per-view television had been broached in the exchange of correspondence between the two sides but details had yet to be thrashed out.