Serie A cannot accept IMG rights bid without competitive tender

Serie A football clubs will reject the unsolicited €3bn ($4bn) offer by the IMG Media agency for their media rights because the rights cannot be assigned to an intermediary without a competitive tender, according to Italian media reports.

The ‘Melandri law’ which re-imposed collective selling of media rights on Italian football, after a decade of individual selling, prevents the league from assigning its rights to a broadcaster or an intermediary without a transparent competitive tender procedure which is overseen by the country’s communications and antitrust authorities.

For the clubs, the IMG offer is of a different nature to the advisory proposal put forward by the Infront Sports & Media agency, which does not require rights to be assigned to another party.

However, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, the clubs are likely to use the interest from IMG to push Infront to commit to a higher minimum guarantee than is foreseen in Infront’s present proposal.

IMG this week made an offer for the media-rights of Serie A, the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana of €2.979bn over three seasons, from 2015-16 to 2017-18. IMG offered €986m for the 2015-16 season, €993m for 2016-17 and €1bn for 2017-18. The agency would charge a commission of 15 per cent, which would only apply to income brought in above the minimum guarantee.

Infront last month offered to guarantee €5.5bn over six seasons, from 2015-16 to 2020-21, to retain its role as media-rights adviser to Serie A. The agency’s current six-year deal as adviser is due to expire at the end of the 2015-16 season.

Infront proposed a new contract worth €900m per season for the 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 campaigns, rising to €930m for each of the 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 campaigns.

Reports say that the clubs will now push Infront to raise its minimum guarantee to €1bn per season for 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18, with an automatic renewal for the following three seasons if Infront brings in €1.1bn per season in its first three years.

The clubs are also said to want to reduce Infront’s commission to three per cent on domestic rights income, if the €1bn-per-season target is reached, and four per cent on the sale of the international rights.

The matter will be discussed at a league assembly on Monday, November 18.