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Serie A has lost more than €500m, chief executive says

Italian football’s Serie A has lost more than €500m ($573m) in revenues due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the league’s chief executive Luigi De Siervo has said.

The league’s three main revenue streams – tickets, sponsorship and media rights – had all been affected, De Siervo said, speaking to Italian public broadcaster Rai. He said, “The whole system is on the verge of collapse.”

De Siervo called on the government to allow teams to admit more spectators to stadiums – the current cap is 1,000 per match. The chief executive said stadiums open up to 25-per-cent capacity should be considered.

Sky Sports Italy reported that he said, “Football does not want privileged treatments compared to the rest of the country, but it also does not want to be disadvantaged. In the stadium there are large open spaces, we can distance people.”

Reuters reported that matchday revenues account for about 11 per cent of the league’s total €2.5bn annual revenues. The majority of revenues come from the sale of media rights.

To shore up its finances, Serie A is considering selling a stake in a business controlling the sale of its media rights to private equity investors. Two bids are reported to be on the table – a €1.35bn offer from Spanish media group Mediapro and private equity firms Bain Capital and NB Renaissance Partners; and a €1.63bn offer from a consortium consisting of CVC Capital Partners, Advent and Italy’s state-backed investor Fondo Strategico Italiano.

The league has asked for final bids to be submitted by September 30, and is to consider them next week.

Commenting on the forthcoming sale of domestic media rights, De Siervo predicted that there would be “positive surprises, despite the fact that there is currently no strong competition as was the case in past years, when Mediaset competed for the TV rights”.

He added: “We are attracting the interest of large international platforms, such as Amazon and Netflix, and we hope that football will return to the centre of the relationship between technologies and platforms.”

Sky and OTT platform DAZN hold the live domestic rights to Serie A in deals worth €973m per season from 2018-19 to 2020-21. Sky Italia pays the bulk of that fee with its contribution standing at €780m per season which give it the rights to seven out of the 10 weekly Serie A fixtures.

DAZN pays €193.3m per season for the rights to the remaining three fixtures per week.