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Croatian FA proposes 10-year TV rights deal but Hajduk could cause split

The Croatian Football Association (HNS) has proposed a new 10-season deal for domestic broadcast rights to club and national team competitions to Croatian First Football League clubs, receiving backing from eight of ten teams.

The proposed new deal, from 2022-23 to 2031-32, for global platform-neutral rights is reportedly with UK-based company Endorphin Magine Ltd, a newly-created entity thought to be part of Swedish OTT solutions company Magine Pro. It is for an initial seven seasons, with an optional three-season extension.

The inventory of rights is for a host of Croatian football including; the top-tier men’s league, along with lower-tier men’s leagues, men’s domestic cup competition, top-tier women’s league and cup competition, junior leagues, men’s and women’s national team matches to which the HNS holds rights, and national futsal competitions.

The proposal also includes marketing and sponsorship rights.

The new offer is thought to involve a significantly higher fee than the figure the HNS receives at present from telco Hrvatski Telekom. The telco renewed its media and sponsorship rights to the top-tier league last year in a three-season deal, from 2019-20 to 2021-22.

Matches are then produced and broadcast by Hrvatski Telekom’s exclusive production partner, pay-television broadcaster Arena Sport.

Reports in Croatia have claimed that the offer is worth as much as €10m ($11.3m) per year, including the sponsorship rights and bonus payments.

The HNS tendered rights from 2022-23 onwards on April 20 with a bid submission deadline of May 11. It informed top-tier clubs of the proposals and then went into direct negotiations.

After presenting the Magine Pro proposal to the clubs yesterday (Monday), the HNS said that “representatives of eight first division teams expressed satisfaction with the presented offer and agreed with the proposal, which they consider good for the further development of Croatian football”.

A representative of Inter Zaprešić was not present, while Hajduk Split “withdrew from deciding on this topic”, according to the HNS.

The executive board of the HNS has said it will now press on with signing a contract with “the selected company”.

However, the proposal has been met with opposition from Hajduk Split, which released its own statement following on from the HNS meeting.

It read: “The president of the management board Marin Brbić , as a representative of HNK Hajduk, requested full information on the bidder with the most generous bid in order to determine all the circumstances for making the best decision, which includes assessing the reliability and quality of business of a partner with such a long-term contract.

“Despite the request of president Brbić, HNS did not offer any information to confirm the creditworthiness or business references of the said bidder.”

The club’s main objection is to the proposed 10-season duration. The statement continued: “The current amount that clubs receive is miserable and below any level, the offered increase is just a correction of an anomaly from the previous contract, and the key problem remains the contract term of 10 years.

“It is an indisputable fact that the value of TV rights has jumped by 65 per cent ​​globally in the last four years alone and this is the best indicator of how harmful it is for clubs to sign a contract for seven or 10 years.”

The Split club has suggested it would rather sell its own domestic rights individually, and has said that it will be submitting a request to do so.