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LaLiga cancels UK, Ireland rights tenders due to ‘unsatisfactory bids’

Spanish football’s LaLiga has cancelled its 2019-22 rights tenders for the UK and Ireland after failing to receive adequate bids, leaving the rights-holder without broadcast partnerships in the two territories heading into the new season.

A LaLiga spokesperson told SportBusiness Media on Wednesday: “After assessing all bids and required additional documentation from participating bidders, LaLiga has declared the tender null and void because no satisfactory bids were received.”

It added that it will provide information “soon” on its next steps. The new LaLiga season starts on August 16.

LaLiga, which is the governing body for the top two divisions of Spanish football, launched separate tenders for the UK and Ireland on July 10, covering rights to the Primera División and the six-match promotion playoffs for the seasons 2019-20 to 2021-22.

It offered six packages comprising a traditional ‘winner-takes-all’ offer; three pay-television packages with varying degrees of exclusivity; an OTT package; and a free-to-air package.

It was thought LaLiga would struggle to get large bids for its property in the UK and Ireland given a likely disciplined bidding approach from pay-television broadcasters Sky and BT. In addition, the tender contained match-choice restrictions thought undesirable for potential free-to-air partners.

LaLiga previously signed a deal with OTT platform Eleven Sports for the UK and Ireland, which had been due to run from 2018-19 and 2020-21. But this was renegotiated in December owing to financial difficulties at Eleven. As a result, LaLiga coverage in the UK and Ireland from February until the end of the season was shared between Eleven, commercial broadcaster ITV and pay-television broadcaster Premier Sports.