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Fox Sports refuses to be drawn on Eredivisie fee payment stance

Pay-television broadcaster Fox Sports is staying tight-lipped as to whether it will withhold an upcoming fee instalment for the Dutch Eredivisie football league in the light of the ongoing suspension of fixtures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Frank Rutten, the broadcaster’s vice-president of Europe and Africa, told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that reports Fox would pay the remaining €22m ($23.4m) fee instalment irrespective of whether the season was completed was not an official statement of its policy.

Rutten added that it was premature to consider that the season would not resume. He said: “More [sports] events are planned after June 1, which have not yet been cancelled. Why decide now?”

In the meantime, Fox told SportBusiness today (Friday) that last month it suspended subscription payments for commercial establishments until at least April 28, the timeline currently mandated by the Dutch authorities for the closure public premises.

Commercial premises pay around €125 per month for Fox’s sports channels.

Fox Sports holds broadcast rights for the Eredivisie in a 12-season deal running from 2013-14 to 2024-25 and worth an average guaranteed sum of €80m per season.

The Eredivisie has said that it is working to the scenario of finishing the 2019-20 season by August 3 at the latest or permanently discontinuing the season.

The Covid-19-related withholding of rights fees has become hot topic in recent days with broadcasters’ live programming portfolios currently decimated.

French pay-television broadcasters Canal Plus and beIN Sports have decided not to pay upcoming French football league rights fee instalments totalling €152m. DAZN, the global sports subscription service, has also begun to inform sports rights-holders that it will not make its next rights fee payments for any content that has yet to be delivered.

Nordic pay-television broadcaster Nent was the first to say publicly that it would not be paying any rights fees for postponed properties until they recommence. The trend has also affected South American football with Brazilian commercial broadcaster Globo suspending payments to Federação Paulista de Futebol, the governing body of football in the state of São Paulo.