BT Sport pundit war as star names call in lawyers to handle dispute with broadcaster over loss of pay
- BT Sport pundits have considered taking legal action against the broadcaster
- Scheduled televised matches have been cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis
- Many of the experts face not being paid for the remainder of their deals
- Even if the season does restart, the number of live matches could be limited
Football pundits are considering legal action against their employers BT Sport as the dispute over loss of pay threatens to turn ugly.
Sportsmail has revealed previously that some of the channel’s highest-profile talent — including Robbie Savage, Rio Ferdinand and Jermaine Jenas — are in danger of being out of pocket because of disruption to the schedule as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
Talks aimed at resolving the issue have been ongoing for the past 10 days and a settlement offer was made — but sources for the team of pundits claim there is no agreement in sight.
Multiple football pundits are considering legal action against their employers BT Sport
The disruption to the season caused by the coronavirus will limit Rio Ferdinand’s screen time
Indeed, it is understood a number of those most affected by the cutbacks have sought legal advice in preparation for the next stage of discussions.
Many of the experts — former players of international repute — are on pro-rata contracts and face not being paid for the remainder of their deals because there are no live games.
In normal circumstances they would usually be paid in full at the end of the season, even if they do not meet their allotted number of appearances, providing they were available to appear.
But BT Sport have informed pundits they do not intend to do the same this year, owing to the truncated live schedule.
Robbie Savage is among the channel’s high-profile talent at risk of being out of pocket
Jermaine Jenas is another pundit who could go without pay if number of live matches is limited
With Premier League officials determined to restart the season, the resumption of live broadcasts would provide an opportunity to earn more. But even if the action does return it is likely to be crammed into a condensed period, which may have an impact on the number of live shows.
The network have launched extra programming, including the Early Kick Off show which was broadcast on Saturday, while pundits have been filming from their homes in recent days.
The channel may even consider looking at devising football-specific summer programming which may provide their group of pundits with an opportunity to make up any financial shortfall.
Meanwhile, Juan Mata has urged footballers across the world to unite in the fight against the virus.
Mata, co-founder of charity initiative Common Goal, announced the formation of a Covid-19 response fund on Wednesday to help vulnerable communities affected by the pandemic.
Juan Mata has urged footballers across the world to unite in the fight against the virus
Common Goal say the fund will be utilised to tackle the immediate effects and support people in the aftermath.
The Manchester United midfielder said: ‘It’s been heartening to see many positive responses from players and other football leaders to the crisis, but it can be also hard to know what to do to effectively help those who need it most.
‘We are suffering a stark reminder of how inter-dependent we all are.
‘To overcome coronavirus we need to coordinate individual efforts and work together as a team. Together we can beat this.’