Liga clubs ‘face rights fee drop’

Spanish Liga football clubs could suffer a drop in media rights income of between 40 and 50 per cent in the next rights cycle due to consolidation and budget cuts in the domestic television industry, according to La Informacion, a news website.

The report said an expected merger of commercial broadcasters Antena 3 and La Sexta would reduce competition for the rights. Public-service broadcasters, including regional broadcasters, have had their rights budgets cut due to the economic downturn.

“Historically, public broadcasters have inflated the price of football,” an analyst said. “With films it was the same and when they could no longer offer these outrageous prices, gradually they began to fall back to more realistic amounts.”

In December, Antena 3 confirmed advanced talks over a merger with La Sexta, which broadcasts one primetime Liga game per week on Saturdays in a deal that will expire at the end of this season.

Antena 3 chief executive Silvio González has warned that the rights would only be renewed if the business was confident of making a profit from the deal. An analyst said: “Antena 3 and [rival commercial broadcaster] Telecinco will not offer more than €40 million ($51 million).” The rights are worth about €100 million per year under the current agreement.