Experienced Sky Italia rights executive Solbiati takes Serie A role

Maria Solbiati, an experienced member of Sky Italia’s media-rights acquisitions team, has taken up the position of head of media at Italian football’s Lega Serie A.

Solbiati has switched from her role as the Italian pay-TV broadcaster’s head of sports media rights acquisitions and sales to assume the new post at the league’s Milan headquarters.

The arrival of Solbiati comes amid structural change at Lega Serie A in the wake of the recent move by Fabio Santoro, the league’s marketing and audiovisual rights director, to the Italian Football Federation (FIGC). Santoro is once again working under Marco Brunelli, the former Lega Serie A chief executive who became the FIGC’s director general earlier this year.

While Solbiati has come on board to assume the domestic media-rights responsibilities, SportBusiness understands that she will not be taking on Santoro’s marketing responsibilities. Andrea Butti joined in August as head of competitions and is now responsible for any of Santoro’s tasks in the competitions area.

Solbiati joined Sky Italia in 2004, following nine and a half years at Italian rights agency Media Partners (subsequently taken over by Infront in 2006).

She is the second experienced sports-rights executive to leave Sky Italia in the last 12 months, after Matteo Mammi, senior director of sports rights, programming and production, stepped down at the end of 2018. Mammi has since been working as an adviser to Mediapro as the agency and production group seeks to land the Serie A domestic rights from 2021-22 onwards.

The league will soon announce its decision over Mediapro’s €1.3bn ($1.43bn) offer for the media, production and distribution rights for the three seasons between 2021-22 and 2023-24 and the creation of an in-house channel for Italy’s top-tier football league.

Meanwhile, Luigi De Siervo, chief executive of Lega Serie A, has revealed that the league will open an office in the US market.

He told public radio broadcaster Rai today (Monday): “It will be the first international office for our football.”

He described USA as “a theatre of football in the coming years” given it will co-host the men’s 2026 Fifa World Cup and is also looking to stage the women’s World Cup.

The Bundesliga and LaLiga have been particularly active in opening offices around the world with the former cutting the ribbon on its New York-based Americas office 12 months ago.