FOOTBALL and television have always had an uneasy relationship.

The need to move kick-off dates and times to suit broadcasting schedules is regularly held up by supporters groups as one of the biggest bugbears of the game. What happened to the days when going to the football meant a Saturday at 3pm every weekend without fail?

Without television income, however, the game would shrink away. Supporters may be inconvenienced and attendances may drop off but in the eyes of the clubs those are sacrifices worth making in order to appease Sky Sports, BT, BBC or whoever else will pay for the right to screen their matches. In Scotland in particular, a national league without a title sponsor probably needs all the financial help it can get.

The feeling, thought, is that when it comes to TV income the game here is being short-changed. To show 86 SPFL games a season, Sky, BT and BBC Alba pay around £15m a year between them after the original deal struck in 2012 was modified last summer. That agreement is set to expire in 2017 although Sky are thought to have the option of triggering a two-year extension.

It is inevitable that eyes will look enviously at what is happening in England where BT and Sky recently agreed a new £5.14bn deal to broadcast coverage of the Barclays Premier League from 2016 to 2019, up from £3bn. Those are the sort of sums Scottish football can only dream of earning.

"This is a further sign of the growing financial gap between Scottish and English football," said Charles Barnett, a partner in the Professional Sports Group at accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP. "If Scottish clubs are unable to buy players from the first and second tier of English football then the game will potentially suffer in Scotland in years to come."

Geographical proximity means England is the most obvious market to look at - especially when it is the same two broadcasters who are showing the majority of the matches - but it is something of a red herring when it comes to drawing comparisons given the vast disparity in population size.

Instead, for a more accurate take on whether the Scottish football deal represents value for money, it is perhaps more instructive to look at some examples of other small to medium-sized European nations and their football broadcasting contracts.

This has been a season to forget for football in Greece, population 11m, with crowd trouble and various refereeing controversies leading to play being suspended on three separate occasions. Even in a country buckling under stringent austerity measures, however, the terms of the television deal are still more generous than their Scottish equivalent. Clubs in the Greek Super League will share €40m (£30m) per year until 2017, with a two-year extension being negotiated that could take that figure up to €43m (£31m) each season until 2019.

In Belgium, where the population is roughly the same as that in Greece, the terms are even more generous. The Jupiler Pro League last year negotiated a six-year deal worth a minimum of €55m (£40m) per season, a sum that could rise as high as €70m (£50m) each year when foreign rights are taken into the equation. Like Scotland Belgium also shares a border with bigger, more prosperous nations in France and Germany without being similarly adversely affected.

The situation is more complicated in Norway (population 5m) but still very prosperous. Only just last week TV2 (a free-to-air station) bought out the sports wing of loss-making pay-TV channel C More and it remains to be seen what will happen there in future. In the last round of deals, the two channels paid a total of 1.6bn Norwegian krone (around £135m, £34m per year) to show live matches from the Tippeligaen for four seasons of summer football from 2013 to 2016. That sum is expected to fall when the time comes for the next round of negotiations with reduced competition in the market due to C More's removal from the picture but will likely still dwarf what is on offer in Scotland.

In Austria (population 8m), the figures are more in line with here. A three-year deal that began in season 2013/14 between Sky Deutschland (subscription) and ORF (free-to-air broadcaster) is thought to be worth around €20m (£15m) a year.

It is little wonder, then, that some Scottish football fans may feel they are getting a raw deal from Sky and BT. Those who operate in the field of sports broadcasting, however, have warned that the situation isn't likely to improve hugely any time soon. There is no clamour among rival stations to show Scottish football, no demand that will drive the price shooting up. The return of Rangers to the top division - whether next season or in future years - would help stimulate interest, but beyond that the feeling is this is as good as it is likely to get.

"I think in Scottish football in a lot of ways missed the boat," said Colin Davidson,a former executive producer of both Sky and Setanta's Scottish football coverage now working with beIN Sports in Qatar. "They talked about going their own way before but now they're at the mercy of BT and Sky.

"Is it attractive enough a product for either of those two to try to outbid each other to get exclusive rights? I'm sorry to say I don't think it is. And that means Scottish football just has to take what it can get from those two firms. I don't see other broadcasters getting involved. The last round of talks in England showed that it was all about BT and Sky and I don't see that changing in the UK market for the foreseeable future.

"We've got to stop kidding ourselves into thinking that Scottish football is anywhere near close to the Premier League in England in terms of attraction. We're just not. Whether people like it or not, without Old Firm games it's a devalued product. Until they are restored that's always going to be the case. And you don't know for sure how long it will take for Rangers to get their house in order to make it a competitive top division once more."

In 2008, clubs in the Netherlands (population 17m) not happy with the offers on the table took over the broadcasting rights themselves to form an in-house subscription-only channel that showed all matches live. Rupert Murdoch's Fox Sports network bought them out five years later in a €1bn (£720m) 12-year deal that worked out at around €80m (£59m) per season. Davidson believes Scottish football missed the chance to take a similar path.

"They should have had a closer look at the Dutch model," he added. "They took it upon themselves to get their own TV deal and made money out of it. And their league is no better supported than the Scottish league. They found a formula to make it work. Scottish football could have done the same. Instead they are stuck with what they have got."