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Thai FA media rights deal imminent as bidders narrowed to two

Football Association of Thailand president, Police General (Rtd.) Somyot Poonpanmoung at the workshop in Bangkok on October 8, 2019. (Football Association of Thailand)

The Football Association of Thailand and its advisor the Octagon agency are close to announcing a major new media rights deal covering the eight years from 2021 to 2028.

The FAT said on Wednesday evening it had narrowed the field of bidders for the rights from eight to two – one domestic company and one international company.

The rights cover the country’s domestic club football competitions for both men and women, men’s and women’s national team games, and futsal and beach football properties.

The auction, which was launched in October and invited final, second-round bids by Monday, December 9, attracted broadcaster and agency bidders.

Among them are understood to have been incumbent domestic media rights-holder TrueVisions, the pay-television broadcaster; local agency Plan B Media; and Eleven Sports, the international sports OTT platform and broadcaster owned by Andrea Radrizzani.

The identity of the final two bidders is not known, but neither Plan B or Eleven are among them. The two offers that remain on the table are both understood to be from agencies. Eleven (or another broadcaster) could yet end up securing the rights, however, if it strikes a deal with the winning agency.

IMG, another agency active in the football rights market in the region, is also not among the final bidders.

The FAT is targeting an aggressive increase in value for the rights. FAT president Somyot Poompanmoung has been pushing the Thai league to modernise and increase its level of commercial sophistication. He is aiming to get re-elected in early 2020, and to land the new media rights deal before the vote.

The FAT is being advised on the sale process by the New York-based Octagon sports marketing agency, which is working with local media rights experts Iqbal Maricar and Nick Wilkinson.