Consortium disappointed by ACM’s preliminary opinion; attractive bid to open negotiation with clubs still stands

  • No objection or appeal lodged: lengthy duration could damage the clubs’ interests and a judicial ruling will come too late for the consortium
  • Consortium calls on clubs to proceed with negotiations so as to generate a lot more income

The consortium of telecom providers (KPN, VodafoneZiggo, Odido and DeltaFiber), which wants to get the chance to bid for or negotiate the collective broadcasting rights of the Eredivisie, is very disappointed by the ACM’s preliminary opinion that it sees no reason to intervene. In the view of the consortium and its legal advisers this opinion is inconsistent with European and Dutch competition law. Furthermore, awarding the broadcasting rights directly through a behind-the scenes process is at odds with common practice in all the main European footballing countries, where football rights are sold through a public bidding procedure.

The consortium takes a different view from the ACM with regard to the legal assessment of its enforcement request, but is not pursuing this judicial procedure. This is because too much time has elapsed for a negotiated agreement to be reached in good time after any objection and appeal procedures by the consortium and potentially by other parties. The consortium is, however, keeping the door open to the clubs, especially in the light of the uncertainties that have been plaguing the parent company of ESPN and Disney, which could jeopardize implementation of the negotiated contract. It also seems that no contract has yet been signed between the clubs, the ECV and ESPN/Disney.

Consortium’s bid is better
The consortium’s guaranteed bid of 180 million euros net is still on the table and will remain there. That sum goes directly to the clubs. And no other costs are deducted from it, as the ECV alleges. So the “hidden costs” referred to by the ECV do not exist. Moreover, this bid is an initial opening bid that the consortium would like to discuss with the ECV and the clubs. Below the line, the difference between the consortium’s final bid and the result of negotiations with Disney could amount, over the course of five years, to more than 100 million euros in favor of the consortium’s bid.

The consortium deplores the fact that the ECV has so far refused to enter into serious talks about the initial bid. “We want to sit down with the ECV and the clubs but we haven’t yet been offered the opportunity, even though the ECV says we have. Negotiating with several bidders only serves to improve the chances of a good deal for the clubs and that is in the interest of Dutch football as a whole,” says a spokesperson for the consortium.

The content of the bid
A joint venture will be established in collaboration with the clubs to exploit all collective rights. The consortium intends to sit down with the clubs to discuss how to deal with all the other revenue from the collective rights. The costs can be discussed at that time as well, along with the influence of clubs on decisions relating to revenue over and above the guaranteed sum of 180 million per year.

On the basis of realistic market forecasts, the total amount that goes to the clubs will be substantially in excess of the guaranteed 180 million euros. In addition, the clubs will have greater freedom to exploit their own image rights, including through their own online channels, which will allow them to generate additional revenue and strengthen their relationship with their fans. The consortium also plans to invest in commercial opportunities at the cutting edge of media and mobile telephony and guarantees that all the matches of the KKD and the Azerion Women’s League will be broadcast live as well. A further guarantee that has been given is that the quality of recordings and broadcasts will be as good as or better than they are at present and the staff that are currently involved will almost certainly be deployed again.

“We are extremely doubtful that Disney’s negotiated proposal is anywhere near what our consortium is offering as an opening bid for further negotiation with the clubs and the ECV,” the spokesperson concludes.