CEV’s 10-year betting rights deal met with opposition

CEV Champions League Women 2020 quarter final between VakifBank and Dinamo Moscow (Photo by Ahmet Dumanli/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The recent sale of betting streaming and data rights by the European Volleyball Confederation (CEV) has become a subject of contention among stakeholders in the sport seeking to understand the rationale for selling the rights for a 10-year term and not running a competitive tender process.

The CEV announced a ‘long-term’ agreement with IMG Arena, the betting arm of the IMG agency, in the middle of March, covering rights to club and national team competitions across volleyball, beach volleyball and snow volleyball. The exact length of the deal was not disclosed.

While the federation announced the deal as having been ‘brokered’ by Advisers Media International, an independent rights agency, it has now emerged that, in May 2019, the CEV accepted an offer from AMI for the rights over 10 seasons from 2020-21. It remains unclear if AMI’s on-sale of rights to IMG covers the full 10-year term of its original deal with CEV.

The long-term sale of rights without a tender has sparked questions as to whether the confederation has ‘left money on the table’ given that the hundreds of matches offered per season represent an attractive proposition for online betting operators. Questions over the involvement of Zoran Avramovic, the CEV’s designated ‘marketing advisor’, have also been raised.

Full details of the concerns raised, the value of the AMI agreement and the political sparring between two rival volleyball interest bodies can be found in a SportBusiness Media feature published today (Friday).

The announcement of the IMG Arena deal in mid-March followed swiftly on from a 12-year global media-rights and production agreement with the Infront agency. The new Infront agreement, worth €106m ($118m) in rights fees, production fees, digital value-in-kind services and coverage costs, was criticised by the Association of Professional Volleyball Clubs (ACPV), the European clubs body, as part of a wider attack against CEV president Aleksandar Boričić in a letter to the continental federation.

Contacted by SportBusiness about the decision to award the rights for 10 years, interest from other players in the market, the responsibility for the live streaming production costs and Avramovic’s role in securing commercial contracts, the CEV said: “Please note that we cannot publish, comment or disclose to third parties any sensitive contractual details.

“However, please be informed that all the topics you have raised have been thoroughly and with full transparency discussed and agreed upon by the respective CEV bodies in charge, namely the Executive Committee, the Board of Administration and the General Assembly. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that all these decisions have been taken unanimously.”

Boričić, who became CEV president in 2015, faces the Estonian Volleyball Federation president Hanno Pevkur in an election that will take place at the rescheduled CEV General Assembly in Moscow in October.