Premier League in no rush to conduct delayed TV rights tender

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FILE PHOTO: Premier League - Fulham v Leicester City

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - The Premier League is in no rush to conduct its auction for domestic broadcast rights, chief executive Richard Masters said on Thursday, insisting he does not expect their value to fall.

The normal schedule for the rights sales would have seen the auction held in February or March but Masters said the league had not yet even decided what package structure would be available in the three-year deal.

Currently the packages for live matches are shared between Sky Sports and BT Sports with Amazon streaming a handful of games.

"We are in no rush to go to market at the moment, we are going to take our time. A great amount of market consultation goes on before we launch a tender process," Masters told the FT's Business of Football summit.

"In a normal three-year cycle we would be having just completed or in the market now, in the middle of our three-year term.

"It will take place at some point this year but it is too early to say whether they will be any material deviation from our historic packaging strategies," he said.

A number of media analysts and broadcasters have said they expect the rights market in Europe to be flat or even drop in value.

BT Sport head Simon Green said this week that he saw a "realignment and a correction and perhaps a period of rights deflation and you can already see it".

But Masters was confident that would not be the case.

"No. I think what is going on in Europe at the moment and I don't want to talk about other people's processes, but I don't really think that they are necessarily relevant to what might happen here in the UK.

"I accept that we are in a challenging environment, of course I do, that much is obvious, but I don't accept that things have plateaued or that we are looking at a downward curve at all," he said.

Masters said that international deals done in the past year had not shown a decline.

"At the moment we are ahead of our current position in the markets where we have been selling. As always we are confident and optimistic of the future not withstanding significant challenges," he added.

(Reporting by Simon Evans)