Italian anti-trust authority hits agencies with €67m fines

Italy’s competition authority, L’Autorità Garante del Mercato e della Concorrenza, has fined three rights-marketing agencies a combined €67m ($74.8m) for breaches of antitrust regulation in the acquisition of Italian football rights.

The agencies are the now-defunct MP & Silva, B4 Capital and IMG.

The fines follow an investigation into the sale of the overseas audio-visual rights to Serie A, Serie B, the Coppa Italia and the Italian Super Cup in three contracts between 2008 and 2017.

The authority concluded that the agencies reached pre-tender agreements with each other which effectively limited the potential increase in value which could have been secured by Italy’s top football league, Lega Serie A, for the rights.

Each of the three tenders was won by MP & Silva, with the league securing an increase in the value of rights of just under 30 per cent between the first and second cycles and 60 per cent between the second and third.

IMG is currently selling Serie A international rights, having won the contract in 2017. It has subsequently become involved in a dispute with the league. It is claiming almost €60m in damages from the league for breach contract over the distribution and promotion of the Italian-language rights to Serie A in Latin America by the international distribution arm of Rai, Italy’s state broadcaster.

The authority said the actions of the three agencies had led to a decrease in the value of international rights which affected the Italian league, its member teams and “the entire national football movement.”