By Jonathan Easton
The board of Serie A, the Italian top-flight football league, have unanimously approved a deal to sell a 10 per cent stake in a new media unit to a joint-bid from CVC Capital Partners and Advent International.
The investment firms, along with the country’s FSI fund, will pay a total of €1.7 billion(US$2.1billion) for 10 per cent of a new company which will manage the league’s TV rights.
The news was confirmed to Bloomberg by league president Paolo Dal Pino, who described it as “a true turning point for the whole Italian soccer industry that will allow us to reaffirm Serie A’s brand worldwide.”
While being one of Europe’s top five leagues, Serie A is significantly behind the likes of the English Premier League and German Bundesliga in terms of broadcast revenues. In its most recent deal, set to expire in 2021, Serie A generated €1.35 per season in broadcast sales while the English league made €3.5 billion – more than 2.5 times the total.
Dal Pino, who became president at the beginning of the year, is a veteran of Telecom Italia and Wind Telecomunicazioni. He is thought to have steered the deal, being elected with a remit to expand the brand and its valuation internationally.
The deal will see CVC own half of the 10 per cent stake, with Advent owning 40 per cent of that 10 per cent and FSI having the rest. Reuters reports that the consortium will retain its stake for at least six years and that it will have final say over who is named CEO of the new business. Serie A will have a majority of one seat on its board. The outlet also says that there are still some tax and legal technicalities to be ironed out before the deal is signed.
The deal also reportedly overcame a major hurdle, with it being reported last week that the consortium wanted to include a breakaway clause in the event that a European Super League is launched. This widely speculated on prospect would see the top clubs from each of Europe’s top leagues depart from their domestic competition, significantly deflating their value. This clause however was refused by Serie A.
Serie A’s current rights cycle expires at the end of the 2020/21 season, with this newly created company expected to demand a significant increase on the subsequent cycle.