Serie A clubs question Infront adviser role

Seven clubs from Lega Serie A, the top division of football in Italy, have raised questions over the future role of the Infront Sports & Media agency as adviser to the league on media-rights sales, according La Gazzetta dello Sport.

In a letter to league president Maurizio Beretta and the division’s other 13 clubs, the seven clubs – Fiorentina, Internazionale, Juventus, Roma, Sampdoria, Sassuolo and Verona – called for a fresh assessment of the league’s whole media rights strategy.

This included a demand that a tender should take place to appoint an adviser for the next cycle of rights, from 2015-16 to 2017-18. Infront’s contract was for six seasons, from 2010-11 to 2015-16. The first year of the next rights cycle would be the last in its current contract.

The clubs believe that Infront has been paid an excessive commission – €35m ($47m) – for selling the media rights for the period 2012-13 to 2014-15, according to the paper.

The clubs also highlighted the discrepancy between the value of the Serie A’s international rights deals and that of the English Premier League and said that there needed to be a plan in place to maximise the value of domestic and international rights in the long term.

The clubs suggested that a meeting should take place with the league’s live broadcast partners, Sky Italia and Mediaset, to gauge their intentions in the next rights cycle. They would like an independent revenue estimate to be commissioned ahead of negotiations and then for the advisory company which has come up with the best rights strategy to be appointed.

Behind the clubs’ concerns is the fear that Sky and Mediaset will not compete aggressively for domestic rights next time, leading to a big reduction in their value. The two broadcasters were bitter rivals at the time of the last rights auction but have since developed various strategic collaborations.