Would Owner of Croatian Marinas Purchase Stake in Italian Football League?

Lauren Simmonds

Could the owner of multiple Croatian marinas become the owner of a stake in the currently enfeebled Italian football league? Although involved parties have denied to comment, unofficial allegations have surfaced.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Tomislav Pili writes on the 6th of May, 2020, two major investment companies, CVC Capital Partners and Blackstone, are in separate negotiations to purchase a stake in the Italian Serie A football league, which is facing huge financial losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

CVC has a long history of investing in sport, and as such, it was once the owner of a share in the famous Formula 1, then motorcycle races for the Grand Prix and in the English first rugby league. Here in Croatia, however, it is best known as the former owner of Zagrebačka pivovara (Zagreb brewery) and the current owner of Croatian marinas purchased from the large Turkish Dogus Group.

According to the Financial Times, CVC is in negotiations to purchase a 20 percent stake in the aforementioned Italian Serie A for a price of two billion euros, which would see the entire Italian first football league come at a value of 10 billion euros. According to informed sources, negotiations initially began late last year.

If it manages to reach that stake, it would give the owner of multiple Croatian marinas the opportunity to participate in negotiations to sell television rights to broadcast matches for a ten year period, more precisely from the year 2021 to the year 2031. Blackstone, on the other hand, wants to acquire a stake by now lending money to Italian clubs so they can cover their costs during the championship postponement.

However, sources have pointed out that negotiations with both funds are still at an early stage and could yet face legal obstacles. CVC, Blackstone and Serie A declined to comment on media allegations. Consulting firm KPMG has estimated that Italy’s first league could lose between 550 million and 650 mllion euros in revenue related to TV rights, sponsorships and tickets if the championship – abruptly suspended in early March owing to the coronavirus pandemic – is not played to its completion.

For now, the leadership of the Italian Football Federation has not yet agreed with the clubs whether or not the championship should continue. Last season, Serie A clubs shared 1.2 billion euros in TV rights revenue, which is 2 billion euros less than the English clubs in the Premiership, the most valuable national football competition in the world.

Back in 2018, the Italian league sold the rights to television broadcasts until 2021 to the pay-TV house Sky and the internet streaming service DAZN. However, the suspension of the championship owing to the pandemic has raised tensions between Serie A and Sky and DAZN, who are demanding a lower amount for this year’s rights due to the suspension of those matches.

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