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Digiturk payments resume after Turkish Süper Lig restart

ANTALYA, TURKEY - JUNE 22: Alexander Sorloth of Trabzonspor in action during a Turkish Super Lig soccer match. (Photo by Mustafa Ciftci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Digiturk, the Turkish pay-television subsidiary of Qatari sports broadcaster beIN Media Group, has resumed rights fee payments to the Turkish Football Federation for the top-tier Süper Lig on the return of the competition following a two-month Covid-19 related suspension.

Turkey’s Youth and Sports minister Muharrem Kasapoğlu announced late last week that Digiturk would restart payments to the TFF as of June 19. The broadcaster still owns around $100m (€88.6m) for the 2019-20 season, which restarted on June 12.

Digiturk will pay the remaining amounts after each matchweek is completed.

It emerged in early April that Digiturk had halted its payments to the TFF for its rights to the Turkish Süper Lig due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The broadcaster said at the time that it had paid around 75 per cent of its per-season total for both the domestic and international rights to the league.

Digiturk and the federation have had a strained relationship in the past year. The parties renegotiated the Süper Lig contract last August because the ailing Turkish Lira had caused Digiturk’s payments to balloon far in advance of what was anticipated when the deal was originally signed in 2016.

The current deal runs until the end of the 2021-22 season.

Despite the renegotiation, concerns have persisted in Turkey that Digiturk might cancel its deal.

However, TFF president Nihat Özdemir dismissed the rumours in a comment to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, adding that early discussions between the two parties suggest Digiturk is seeking to extend its contract beyond the 2021-22 season.

Özdemir said: “Last week beIN’s CEO [Yousef Al-Obaidly] said to us in front of our board of directors: ‘Dear board, you know, our contract ends after 2 years. However, we want to extend it for 2 years later’. Will the company that says this go? On the contrary, they want to extend the contract.”

Digiturk’s owner beIN declined to comment when approached by SportBusiness.