Italy’s Serie A seeks new TV rights sharing solution

Representatives from the 20 clubs in Italy’s top football league, Serie A, were meeting late this afternoon, November 5, to attempt to thrash out a new sharing model for media rights revenues for the coming three seasons, 2012-13 to 2014-15. They are hoping to avoid the years of wrangling that accompanied the last rights cycle, from 2010-11 to 2011-12.

The 2008 ‘Melandri law’ which re-imposed collective selling on Italian football, laid down that media-rights income should be split according to three criteria: a ‘substantial part’ was to be shared equally, with a second part awarded according to sporting results and a third part divided according to the size of supporter base. The clubs agreed to split 40 per cent equally, with 30 per cent each for results and supporters.

However, subsequently they could not agree on a mechanism for deciding the size of each club’s supporter base. The dispute ran from 2009 until March this year, when three companies appointed to conduct research on the matter – Doxa, Full-Six Crespi, and Sport+Markt – delivered their results. The results suggested that Juventus was the country’s best-supported club, with 26.41 per cent of all Serie A fans. Inter Milan, with 18.06 per cent, and AC Milan, with 17.62 per cent, were next. The only other clubs with more than five per cent were Napoli, with 10.21 per cent, and Roma, with 7.36 per cent.

It also took the Serie A clubs until March this year to agree on a second level of revenue-sharing, covering the lower football leagues and grassroots football. The Melandri law laid down that 10 per cent of Serie A’s media-rights income should be distributed among the second division, Serie B, the third division, Lega Pro (formerly known as Serie C), and the semi-professional Lega Dilettanti.

The amount finally paid out for the period 2010-11 and 2011-12 was €182.2 million ($235 million), which was shared as follows: €134 million to Serie B, €39.3 million to Lega Pro and €8.9 million to the Lega Dilettanti.