Internationalisation and transformation: Dal Pino outlines his vision on Serie A debut

Transforming Serie A into a media company and ‘internationalising’ the appeal of the Italian league were the two key themes outlined by Serie A’s newly-elected president Paolo Dal Pino at his first league assembly yesterday (Monday) in Milan.

Dal Pino said becoming a media company did not necessarily mean creating a league channel. He made no specific reference to the offer from Spanish media and production house Mediapro to create a channel in a joint venture with the league.

Mediapro’s offer of €1.283bn ($1.42bn) per season has been on the table since November 4. The clubs failed to reach an agreement on the offer at four league assemblies and negotiations then stalled as the two parties waited for a new president to be elected, following the resignation of former president Gaetano Miccichè on November 19.

Mediapro and the league have threatened legal action against each other for damages in the interim period but negotiations between the two are expected to continue.

Dal Pino told the clubs that there “is a great challenge ahead of us,” to “accelerate the transformation of Lega Serie A into a media company competitive on an international scale”.

He continued: “Being a media company does not mean creating a channel but working as a content producer that distributes its content even on platforms which are totally unlike traditional television”.

He added: “The world is evolving, the number of platforms is growing – platforms which can satisfy the need for content in many forms. We have to be able to organise and structure ourselves to take advantage of the changing needs of consumers, creating the most desirable product possible.”

The domestic live rights to Serie A games are currently held by pay-television platform Sky Italia and subscription OTT service DAZN. The process for the sale of the domestic rights for the next three-year cycle, from 2021-22 to 2023-24, would be “rapid”, Dal Pino said, and should be wrapped up within six months.

He said: “I’m meeting the various interested operators. I will also meet Amazon and other OTT operators. But we need to focus on international issues, as well as domestic. I believe there needs to be a more active participation of Lega Serie A in international markets. Being able to double or triple [revenues] will depend on our ability to be out in the market and bring Serie A to life outside Italy. What’s needed is passion, ideas and action.”

The league’s international rights are currently held by the IMG agency. IMG is widely considered to be losing money on its annual investment of €380m in the rights in its deal from 2018-19 to 2020-21.

Dal Pino, who was elected on January 8, with the votes of 12 of the 20 leagues clubs, said that the process of internationalising Serie A was “fundamental”. He had found that there was a great interest abroad in Serie A clubs and believed the influx of foreign owners and investors into Serie A would help open the league up to new markets.

He continued: “We have to get back to making Italian football the best and most-viewed in the world. We have to work to make our championship a world leader. It’s up to us to make this happen, by conjoining the transformation of the league into a media company with support from the league for the cultural role that football plays in our country and abroad.”

To achieve this, he said, the league would need to create increasingly close relationships with the government, institutions and the FIGC, the national football federation.