Mediapro offers €1.5m in bid to break Liga Iberdrola deadlock

Mediapro, the Spanish production and media rights group, has revealed details of a €1.5m ($1.64m) offer to Spain’s Association of Women’s Football Clubs (ACFF) in bid to stave off the threat of a players’ strike.

The 2019-20 Primera Iberdrola, the women’s top flight, has been disrupted by wrangles over media rights and now the prospect of players striking on the weekend of November 16-17 in protest against the size of minimum wage increases.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has proposed a sum of €500,000 per season to each of the 16 top-tier clubs in return for their media rights, but ongoing uncertainty over whether that deal will happen continues to hamper clubs’ spending plans.

Mediapro how now come forward with a financial proposal “to break the deadlock”, but is insisting on retaining weekly coverage on Gol, its free-to-air sports channel.

In a statement, Mediapro said that it will allow the ACFF “to access the funds offered by the RFEF in a bid to resolve the impasse”.

Mediapro continued: “The contracts signed between ACFF and Mediapro have not been and will not be an obstacle to the growth of this sporting discipline. If the RFEF maintains its offer for the audiovisual rights of each of the Primera Iberdrola clubs, the Mediapro Group would free up the Association and its clubs from the commitments acquired.

“The Mediapro Group maintains its objective that women’s football continues to reach every household in Spain via Gol, and for this it is willing to offer €1.5m to ACFF to financially cover the requests made by the players and thereby averting the proposed strike, obtaining in return the retransmission of two weekly matches of the Primera Iberdrola league.”

Mediapro agreed a collective rights agreement with a dozen Primera Iberdrola clubs earlier this year as the rights were tendered for the first time. The contract was worth €3m per season from 2019-20 to 2021-22 but excluded Barcelona, Athletic Club (Bilbao), Sevilla and Tacón.

The latest move by Mediapro comes in response to the Spanish government announcing that it will mediate between the league’s footballers and clubs in a bid to reach a consensus.

The Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) has called for a minimum gross salary of €20,000 per year, along aspects such as 30 days of holiday leave, a maternity leave policy and a framework to legislate for injuries.

In making its offer, Mediapro, which has been at loggerheads with the RFEF over various issues, has defended its role in showcasing the women’s game in Spain since 2012.

Mediapro stated: “The Mediapro Group and Gol have been investing in women’s football for years. Investing at a time when nobody else would, when nobody believed in its future, and when nobody cared to invest in it.”

Mediapro also highlighted the “complex environment” that has engulfed the women’s game in Spain in recent months, which, it says, is “stunting its growth and endangering everything the competition has achieved on a long and arduous journey to arrive where it has today”.

In September, the RFEF announced that it had been awarded a €1.5m investment in women’s football from European football’s governing body Uefa to invest in “broadcast development” of the First Iberdrola.

Barcelona were at the centre of the media rights wrangle earlier this season as the Catalan club defied a court order by broadcasting its match against Atlético Madrid. The court hearing in Barcelona’s 47th court of first instance had ruled that Barcelona could not broadcast the match as it had failed to gain the consent of Mediapro and Atlético Madrid.

Mediapro threatened the RFEF with sanctions after it was blocked from broadcasting the Primera Iberdrola match between Madrid CFF and Real Betis Féminas on Sunday, September 8.