Sir Alex Ferguson says television has too much power

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson believes television has too much power over English football.

In an exclusive interview with BBC North West Tonight, Ferguson said TV controls aspects of the game because of the vast amount of money it provides.

He claimed clubs did not have enough say when it came to fixtures and, as a result, those sides competing in Europe were worse off.

"When you shake hands with the devil you have to pay the price," he said.

"Television is God at the moment. It is king.

"When you see the fixture lists come out now, they [the television companies] can pick and choose whenever they want the top teams on television.

"You get some ridiculous situations when you're playing on Wednesday night in Europe and then at lunchtime the following Saturday. You ask any manager if they would pick that themselves... there'd be no chance."

The 69-year-old Scot also reckoned that clubs are not even getting the kind of money they deserve from TV given that the Premier League now sells its product to 200 countries.

"When you think of that, I don't think we get enough money," he said

Former Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick agreed that football is now "super-reliant on television" but suggested that TV revenue had helped facilitate United's success under Ferguson.

"Sir Alex's comments always have to be taken seriously - he is a very wise and experienced football man," Barwick told BBC Sport.

"But I do think Manchester United have almost had a lion's share of TV revenue over a period of time and it has helped build a fantastic stadium in Old Trafford and helped build Sir Alex's teams with star players.

"Manchester United will always do well in the television market because a lot of people follow them.

"The Premier League should be applauded for the number of countries it has got the game to. It has been a massive success story."

The Premier League's television rights deal was last renewed in February 2009 when Sky reportedly paid in excess of £1.6bn to show five 23-game packages from 2010-13. Irish-based broadcaster Setanta paid £159m for one bundle of 69 matches over the three years. This package was later taken over by ESPN.

The record deal equates to clubs earning, on average, £4.3m for each game shown live on television.

In addition, overseas TV deals earned Premier League clubs just over £17m each last season.

Under the new deal, United earned more than £60m from television last season - a combination of fees for having their matches shown live and prize money based upon league position.

So far this season, the champions have appeared in six televised league games and are scheduled to appear three more times before the end of November.

In an in-depth interview with North West Tonight, Sir Alex Ferguson also discussed:

  • The effect of losing to Barcelona in the 2009 Champions League Final: "When Barcelona beat us in Rome there was an issue on how we could get to that level. We've made steady progress since then."
  • On the club's youth policy: "We have a nucleus of young players aged around the 20-21 mark who can be the nucleus of what we regarded as the Giggs, Scholes, Neville, Beckham era."
  • On his longevity at the club: "Nobody talks about sacking [me] so I can have the vision of looking two, three years ahead."
  • On his rumoured dressing room tirades: "Myths grow all the time. If I was to listen to the number of times I've thrown teacups then we've gone through some crockery in this place. It's completely exaggerated, but I don't like people arguing back with me."
  • On losing: "I don't like losing but I've mellowed. I maybe have a short fuse but it goes away quicker now."
  • On football's future: "I feel sympathy for the working class lad. I've always championed about ticket prices and try to equate that to people's salaries. I look at some of those London prices when we go there and it's horrendous. But I think the Premier league is a strong product because there's a tremendous honesty in our game and fans play a part in that."
  • On players' salaries: "You can understand that clubs are desperate to win something and their imagination stretches and they end up paying silly money for players you'd never consider."
  • On turning 70 in December: "When I was 60-65 it didn't bother me. I am just glad to be here. Getting to Hogmanay at 70 - I'm delighted."