Mediapro, the Spanish production group and agency, has said that it offered €100.5m ($110.6m) for domestic and international rights to the Copa del Rey over three years, and has prepared the ground for a legal damages claim against the recent award of rights by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).
The purported offer equates to an average of €33.5m per season and was made during the second round of bids, after which Mediapro withdrew in protest at the RFEF’s rights auction.
On Friday, the RFEF announced that it had brought a total of nearly €80m – or €26.7m per season – from the sale of the Copa del Rey domestic and selected international rights from 2019-20 to 2021-22. Mediaset, the free-to-air commercial broadcaster, was awarded the rights in Spain although only the rights in “part of Europe” and “part of the rest of the world” were awarded.
Mediapro today released a stinging statement in response to the RFEF’s announcement, which had feted the “best results in the history of marketing broadcast rights” to the Spanish knockout clubs tournament. The federation also said that it hoped to exceed a total of €100m over three seasons once the remaining international rights had been sold.
Mediapro had already revealed its bid of upwards of €40.5m – or €13.5m per season – for the rights in Spain, but today said that it offered €60m – an average of €20m per season – for the international rights.
The Barcelona-based company continued: “The number offered by Mediapro in the second round exceeded the expectations expressed by the RFEF. This confirms that the decision of the RFEF not to award the rights to Mediapro has seriously damaged its own interests as well as, above all, those participating teams who are creditors of over 90 per cent of the amounts raised.”
In issuing its latest stance on the RFEF’s rights auction, Mediapro once more criticised a process “lacking the minimum transparency”.
A legal challenge is also being considered with Mediapro stating that it has “put everything that happened in this process into the hands of its legal counsel for the purpose that both the RFEF and the persons responsible for the decisions adopted by this institution address the claims that come from the damaged caused to this group”.
Upon pulling out of the race for the rights, Mediapro had criticised the RFEF for failing to “grant these rights to the best offer presented in the previous process”.
Given the loss of Mediapro as a bidder for not only the domestic but also the international rights, the RFEF is likely to have chosen the best bids from broadcasters and agencies in certain international markets.
It was reported today that DAZN, the over-the-top subscription service, has picked up the rights in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan, and that Sela Sport, the Saudi Arabia-based agency, has been awarded the rights in the Middle East and North Africa. The RFEF this week strengthened its ties with Saudi Arabia in awarding the country the hosting rights to its Supercopa in lucrative three-year agreement.
It was recently reported that Mediaset had teamed up with DAZN to bid for the domestic rights as the RFEF initiated a third round of bidding.
In September, the RFEF issued invitations to tender in the European Union and the rest of the world. The domestic association is being advised on the international rights sales process by the Sportradar agency.
Luis Rubiales, the controversial and outspoken RFEF president, recently claimed that rights fees generated would exceed those previously raised for the tournament by LaLiga, which governs the top two leagues of Spanish professional football. The 2019-22 cycle marks the first time that the RFEF has sold the rights as a whole package.
The RFEF previously only marketed rights to the final of the Copa del Rey, which it sold to public broadcaster TVE in separate deals over the last two seasons. The 2017 final rights were sold to Mediaset through a wider deal which incorporated rights to the Supercopa and Spanish national team friendlies.
Mediapro held the rights in the 2016-19 cycle for the remainder of competition, which it acquired from the then rights-holder, LaLiga. Mediapro had initially been excluded from last year’s bidding process for the Copa del Rey final before a judge ruled it was unlawful.
The B4 Capital agency previously held the international rights to the Copa del Rey final (and Spanish Super Cup) from 2014-15 to 2017-18.
In May, the RFEF invited bids for the European broadcast rights to the 2018-19 Copa del Rey final, working in an advisory capacity on the rights auction with the Sportradar agency and For Media Sports Management, the Dubai-based consultancy headed by Emanuele Villari, B4’s former head of rights sales and acquisitions in Europe.
The RFEF was also hit by the news today that the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMC), the Spanish competition watchdog, has challenged its Supercopa rights tender.