MILAN, Italy- The Chinese-owned MediaPro group lost their Serie A television rights, with the Italian league confirming on Tuesday they will proceed with a resale through private negotiations.
The assembly of the Serie A League considered “guarantees presented at the last minute by the Spanish intermediary MediaPro” and “unanimously approved a new phase of offer aimed at broadcasters” for the next three years of the Italian league.
Negotiations will start from Tuesday afternoon, with a decision due on June 13.
An Italian court last month annulled a contract awarding MediaPro rights to broadcast Serie A football matches from next season, ruling in favour of a legal challenge by Sky’s Italian unit which argued the sale did not respect Italian competition rules.
Until the end of last season which finished in May, Sky and the Silvio Berlusconi-founded commercial broadcaster Mediaset shared television rights to Serie A, which amounted to 945 million euros per year for the period 2015 to 2018.
Last-ditch guarantees amounting to 1.6 billion euros ($1.87 billion) provided by MediaPro group were rejected by the Italian league on Tuesday.
The documentation was provided Monday by the Spanish group which is majority-owned by a Chinese investment fund in a bid to retain rights for the period 2018 to 2021.
But Italian lawyers ruled the guarantees were “in no way compliant and responding to the announcement”, sources told Italian news agency AGI.
In particular, the 1.6 billion euros offered as a guarantee was not collectable on simple request to a bank but “provided by third parties”, with all probability in China.
“This is not a guarantee issued directly by the Spaniards, the League could not therefore collect it directly from them, and with all probability – if the situation turned to the worst – it should embark on a judicial action in China,” the source told AGI.
“The letter of ‘certification’ on the assets of Chinese companies … was drafted not by KPMG audit … but by KPMG advisory which has no legal value,” the source added.
With 6,600 employees, MediaPro is a heavyweight when it comes to European sports content.
The group recently strengthened its presence in European sports broadcasting by recently snapping up the rights to broadcast France’s Ligue 1 football for the period 2020 to 2024, highlighting growing Chinese interest in money-spinning European football.