EA on verge of $600 million deal to be the Premier League's 'lead partner'

An Arsenal player makes binoculars with his hands.
(Image credit: Clive Mason via Getty.)

Electronic Arts is about to seal a £488 million ($590 million) commercial deal with the English Premier League, the most-watched and commercially lucrative football league in the world. This may well be the most important commercial partnership EA has for its upcoming re-branding exercise with EA Sports FC, which is the new name for the series formerly known as FIFA.

Sky Sports has reported on a meeting at the end of last week where all 20 Premier League clubs were briefed on the deal, which works out at more than £80 million a year over six years. It is also something of a continuation of EA's previous agreements. The deal will see EA remain as what they call the Premier League's 'lead partner', keep all relevant game licences, and see EA Sports FC emblazoned everywhere around coverage and grounds.

The amounts involved, however, have more than doubled the previous deal. This might seem like silly money—and it is—but there's also no denying that the Premier League's ascension over the last decade has left rivals like La Liga in the dust. The effect is so pronounced that many top European teams want to set up a European Super League, and in 2021 several English teams were almost tempted away before the backlash.

Either way, if you're selling a football game, the Premier League is the league you most want to be associated with. EA has had various agreements with the league dating all the way back to 1998, and became a lead partner in 2016. Neither the Premier League nor EA has commented on the yet-unannounced deal.

This is all happening because EA and FIFA fell out, which was reportedly sparked by the world governing body demanding over $1 billion for the licence in recent talks, but had been in the works much longer. EA executives had felt for a while that FIFA got more from the deal than it ever acknowledged, and indeed that the publisher had done more in recent decades to build FIFA's brand than FIFA had. FIFA 23 was the last entry in the series to bear the name, and the games will continue under the EA Sports branding. I'm pretty sure EA will be fine. FIFA, on the other hand, looks like it's in a bit of a mess.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."