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Madrid court upholds Mediapro’s women’s football deal

A Spanish court has ruled that the country’s women’s football clubs are the owners of their individual broadcast rights, with the implication that a deal signed earlier this year by the Mediapro agency for the Primera División de la Liga de Fútbol Femenino, the existing top division of the domestic game, is lawful.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) had claimed ownership of the broadcast rights and sought to centralise those rights from the 2019-20 season amid its plans to launch a new league.

But Spanish newspaper El Economista reported that the judge’s order on Tuesday indicated that “the current sports legislation does not recognise the RFEF’s…ownership over the existing audiovisual rights to women’s football competitions, nor does it impose a forced obligation to transfer such rights from clubs to the RFEF”.

The court’s decision aligns with recent guidance issued by Spain’s competition regulator, the CNMC, that the RFEF’s intention to centralise women’s football rights “did not find coverage in the precepts of the royal decree-law” that regulates the commercialisation of LaLiga rights.

The consequence of the ruling is that Mediapro will be able to cover the majority of the 2019-20 Primera División, with the exception of the three clubs that refused to accept the contract. Athletic Club, Barcelona and CD Tacón, which is poised to become Real Madrid’s women’s team, had backed the RFEF’s centralisation plan.

Mediapro extended a rights deal for the Primera División de la Liga de Fútbol Femenino in March, covering the three seasons from 2019-20 to 2021-22. The agency, which has had rights to the league since 2013, struck the deal with the ACFF, the Association of Women’s Football Clubs in the country.