Court says Real Zaragoza breached Mediapro contract

A Spanish commercial court has said that Spanish Liga football club Real Zaragoza was in breach of contract for signing a three-year rights deal, from 2012-13 to 2014-15, with pay-television operator Prisa.

The court said that the Mediapro agency, the current holder of Real Zaragoza’s rights, had first right of refusal on the rights for next season, according to the El Periódico de Aragón newspaper. Mediapro’s five-year deal with the club, from 2007-08 to 2011-12, was originally due to end this season. The court said Zaragoza’s relegation to the second-tier league for the 2008-09 season meant the contract was suspended for that year. It said the contract was reactivated when Zaragoza returned to the top tier in 2009-10 and should be extended by one season to cover the period spent in the second tier.

Zaragoza had argued that the length of the contract contravened the position of the Comisión Nacional de Competencia, the national competition authority, on the length of media rights deals with football teams, which is now set at a maximum of three years. Mediapro said that the contract was signed before the new law was passed.

The court also ordered Mediapro to pay Zaragoza this season’s television rights fee of €18 million ($24 million). Zaragoza had taken a separate legal action against Mediapro for non-payment of this fee.

Zaragoza is currently in voluntary administration, and the Mediapro fee will help it pay off some of its debts.

The three-year deal Zaragoza signed with Prisa, from 2012-13 to 2014-15, was worth €25 million per year.

Clubs in Spanish football’s top-tier league, La Liga, negotiate their television rights contracts individually.