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Serie A could face damages claim from international rights partner IMG

Italy’s top football league, Lega Serie A, is facing the threat of a damages claim by the IMG agency, the sales agent for the league’s global media rights.

The agency is understood to have told the league this week that it is preparing a letter setting out its grievances, which relate to what it considers to be unfulfilled commitments made by the league at the time the contract was signed in 2017. If the grievances are not addressed the matter is likely to end up in the Italian courts.

The agency believes the league’s failure to deliver on certain commitments has had a material impact on its ability to deliver the kind of product it has promised to its global partners.

One senior Italian club source confirmed the agency had raised concerns throughout the season about issues including problems with kick-off times, poor pitches and matches being played in half-empty stadiums. However, he argued that there were no binding contractual commitments by the league to address these issues. The source said that many Italian clubs feel the complaints are a prelude to an attempt by the agency to renegotiate the contract.

Both IMG and the league declined to comment today.

In October 2017, IMG acquired the global rights to Serie A, outside Italy, for the three seasons from 2018-19 to 2020-21.

It is paying: €335m per season for the rights; €13.6m per season for access to the match signal; and €12m per season for betting streaming rights. The agency also committed to spending €8m per season on marketing. Separately, it acquired the archive rights to the 20 clubs for about €12m per season.

The agency is set to lose a substantial amount of money on the deal, according to research published by SportBusiness Media in October.