CVC’s €2.2bn Serie A proposal includes stadium investment

The €2.2bn ($2.4bn) investment proposal from private equity company CVC Capital Partners to Serie A is thought to include a commitment to help fund the construction and maintenance of Italian football stadiums.

News recently broke of CVC’s offer, which includes an investment in a company set up to sell domestic broadcast rights, potentially over a ten-year period from the 2021-22 season onwards, but other elements of the proposed investment have now emerged.

Along with CVC’s proposal to acquire 20 per cent of a new company that manages the broadcast rights, Serie A’s international trademark and commercial development, CVC would also part finance a new investment fund responsible for driving the stadium development, several sources briefed on the plans told the Financial Times.

One person involved in the talks told the newspaper: “It would be a revolution if Lega Calcio decides to institutionalise the building and management of stadiums.”

It is reported that CVC now holds an exclusive six-week negotiating period (until the end of June) but that the draft terms are subject to further talks.

Many Italian clubs have been held back by financing costs and administrative obstacles in their attempts to build new stadiums or upgrade their existing venues. Several stadiums have not enjoyed significant investment since Italy staged the 1990 Fifa World Cup.

The CVC proposal is set to be studied initially by the league board and the presidents of Atalanta, Juventus, Lazio and Napoli, before the leadership group is expanded in the coming weeks.

It was also recently reported that US-based private equity group Blackstone was prepared to offer the league a €100m loan to meet the short-term needs of clubs during Covid-19.

CVC’s interest comes with the private equity giant having closed in on an investment in the Six Nations rugby union tournament. CVC has been in talks with the Six Nations about acquiring a 14-per-cent stake, but it was reported last month that the deal has been delayed due to the pandemic.

In 2018, CVC acquired 27 per cent of English club league Premiership Rugby, paying £200m (€224.5m/$244m). It has also been in talks about a £120m investment in the Pro14 European and South African league.

The Infront agency holds a six-year near-€6bn minimum-guarantee agreement with Lega Serie A to work as its exclusive adviser on domestic and international rights media-rights sales, but that deal comes to an end in 2021.

A stumbling block in any deal with CVC could come in the form of Italy’s Melandri Law. The legislation prevents the sale of all broadcast rights to a single entity. There are those, however, who argue that the rule should only apply to a company capable of broadcasting the matches and not an intermediary.