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Al-Ahly denies Egyptian league withdrawal threat over rights dispute

Egyptian Premier League club Al-Ahly has said it is committed to brokering its own broadcast rights deal, but has denied that it has threatened to withdraw from the country’s top-tier football division amid a dispute over the league’s rights deal with state-run broadcaster Egyptian Television Network.

Egyptian Television Network last month acquired rights for the 2013-14 season of the Premier League. The deal was worth LE70m (€7.4m/$10.1m), according to the Egyptian Football Association, the sport’s governing body in the country.

The agreement was reached by a committee representing the league’s clubs, but Al-Ahly, the country’s biggest club, withdrew from the committee in an effort to broker its own rights deal. Al-Ahly president Hassan Hamdy told the Ahram Online website: “We didn’t think of withdrawing from the domestic league at all, but all the same we are sticking with selling the television rights of our matches away from the collective deal. Our television rights were estimated to be LE35m, so we will hold the tender on time.”

Hamdy added: “We will stand by our decision until we get the club rights, and that is not contradicted by the country’s interest like what some people say about us. (Spanish clubs) Real Madrid and Barcelona suffered the same pressures when they decided to sell their TV rights separately, but finally Fifa took their side.”