Mediapro claims latest win in ‘football war’

Spanish agency Mediapro has hailed its latest court victory against media company Prisa in the so-called ‘football war’ over rights to LaLiga, the top division of the domestic game.

The Court of First Instance nº 37 of Barcelona has rejected the case brought by Prisa by which it sought to overturn a ruling made by the Supreme Court in January 2015, which stated that the model of football rights exploitation used by Prisa breached fair competition rules. Mediapro said the Barcelona court has also ruled that Prisa must pay the agency’s costs in the case.

In the lawsuit, Prisa was suing Mediapro for €85m ($96.8m) in compensation for the rights exploited by Mediapro for several clubs during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. The ruling, handed down by the presiding judge of the court stated that “the party (Prisa) cannot expect to be compensated for alleged profits they did not receive when these profits are claimed on the basis of a de facto situation that, had the rules of fair competition been respected, would not have come about”.

Mediapro said in a statement: “The Mediapro Group is pleased that, once again, the Spanish justice system has thwarted Prisa’s attempts to circumvent the significant Supreme Court ruling demanding compensation and damages without any legal basis.

“Prisa seems to ignore the scope of this judgment when it attempts to claim compensation for a model that the highest judicial authority in Spain has declared totally void. For Mediapro, Prisa’s insistence on maintaining this legal challenge alive is incomprehensible, especially after previous rulings clearly established that ‘the real possibility of filing a new case for compensation on these same grounds is null and void’ (Barcelona Provincial Court).”

Mediapro and Prisa have long been at odds over LaLiga rights. In February 2015, Mediapro won an appeal in the Spanish Supreme Court against an earlier ruling that the agency had breached contracts relating to rights for LaLiga.

Five judges found unanimously in favour of Mediapro in the appeal filed against a sentence handed down by Madrid’s provincial appeal court in relation to the contracts, signed in July 2006. The saga dates back to August 2007 when Prisa accused Mediapro of contractual breach and cut the television signal for football matches due to be shown to Mediapro's customers.

The court found that the contracts Mediapro had been accused of breaching were “null and void”. Prisa had been seeking more than €320m from Mediapro, but following the ruling, the latter was ordered to pay €32m – the amount resulting from a settlement between the two companies covering the 2006-07 season. The €32m total was already owed by Mediapro prior to Prisa cutting the television signals for the matches.