UK broadcasters Sky, BT and Amazon Prime Video could see their current Premier League contracts extended under proposals currently under consideration.
The Sunday Telegraph reports the Premier League is concerned that the combination of the current pandemic, Brexit, and the new frenemies approach between Sky and BT might all impact on the price of the next rights deal.
The process, due to get underway in May, was expected to be another auction, but the Premier League believes a private sale might serve to maintain the amount raised by the UK rights at current levels.
Under the current contract, Sky paid £3.75 billion for its 128 live games a season, BT paid £975 million for 52 games, including Saturday lunchtimes and some midweek games, while Amazon paid an undisclosed fee for 20 matches. During the Covid pandemic all of the broadcasters, including the BBC which holds a highlights package, have between them screened the majority of the Premier League programme while crowds have been absent.
The last time that a private auction took place was in the early 2000s, after which the European Commission ruled the rights should be split among at least two broadcasters.