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Three-year limit on LaLiga’s European broadcast deals is scrapped

LaLiga president Javier Tebas makes a speech during SPORTELAsia in Macau (by Wang He/Getty Images)

LaLiga, the governing body for the top two tiers of Spanish domestic football, has been given authorisation to sell its future broadcast rights in Europe for more than the traditional three-year term in amends made to the Royal Decree that governs the sale of centralised rights.

The changes put in place by the Spanish government this week remove the term limit which imposed the three-year restriction on rights sales in Spain and the rest of the European Union.

The legislation is expected to take effect from the 2022-23 season onwards and would therefore affect the domestic invitation to tender for the LaLiga rights in Spain, which is expected to be distributed later in the year.

Amendments to the rights sales legislation also pave the way for LaLiga to follow in the footsteps of the Premier League, which this year secured a lucrative six-year rights deal in the Nordic region.

The Royal Decree text previously stated that the “duration of commercial contracts shall not exceed three years” but has now been amended to read that “the duration of commercial contracts shall be subject to the competition rules of the European Union”.

The limit was first applied by the Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMC), the Spanish competition watchdog, in 2010 and had been a bugbear of LaLiga’s over the last decade.

Sources have suggested that the domestic rights sales process could be complicated by a CNMC ruling which precludes Telefónica from bidding for contracts of over three years in length.

The English Premier League generated the sizeable sum of €2.3bn ($2.5bn) over six years in its new deal with Nordic Entertainment Group, running from 2022-23 to 2027-28.

Traditionally, the English top flight had sold its international broadcast rights in three-year deals. Exceptions to that rule included the six-year contracts agreed in 2012 in China (with Super Sports Media) and in 2015 in the US market (with NBC).

Spanish rights and production agency Mediapro works with the LaLiga on its sale of broadcast rights internationally.

LaLiga and Mediapro recently agreed a three-season extension with Danish commercial broadcaster TV2 on April 23 for the three seasons between 2021-22 and 2023-24.

It is expected that a raft of LaLiga deals across the EU will be completed in the immediate future with deals understood to be close across a further 15 territories after the issuing of a tender in late February.

LaLiga has been steadily increasing revenues over recent cycles which has yielded enormous returns for its clubs, most recently seeing a total of €1.42bn in domestic and international revenues for its 20 participant clubs in the 2018-19 season.