The Centralization of Media Rights was discussed in this week's Webinar
Tiago Madureira, Executive Director of Liga Portugal, Luís Vicente, Chairman of APEX Capital, and Pedro Brinca, Associate Professor at Nova SBE, were present at a debate moderated by football pundit António Tadeia
The Webinar series leading up to the Thinking Football Summit 2023 kicked off today, with a debate on the Centralization of Media Rights.
Tiago Madureira, Executive Director of Liga Portugal, explained that the ongoing process is irreversible. "Let's be very clear: the sole fact of discussing the centralisation taking place is primitive, it shouldn't even happen in Portugal. It will be a game-changer and the most differentiating process in Portuguese football in recent years. There is no alternative path, there is a decree-law that defines that, in the worst-case scenario, it will take place in the 2028-29 season, which is when the last individual agreements end", he assures, explaining that "the Centralisation of Media Rights is not the Robin Hood of football", but that it will serve to tip the balance. "Audiovisual assets are extremely relevant and the objective is not to take from those who are paid more to distribute to others, but for everyone to be able to receive more and level these revenues up. There will be safeguard clauses so that the values are maintained," he said.
Luís Vicente, Chairman of APEX Capital, agreed with the importance given to the Centralisation of Media Rights. "The aspect that centralisation allows is that the League gets to control where the product should be destined. Eventually, it optimally defines how that product can be built and customised. We have to be able to create products that have different business models", he explains, stating that "there is room for improvement". "Several investors look at the Liga Portugal as an attractive product. The arrival of investors in our football shows that our football can be worth a lot more. Investors only invest in sectors that have added value," he stressed.
On the other hand, Pedro Brinca, Associate Professor at Nova SBE, was the most sceptical voice in the debate, raising some concerns, although he generally agreed with the Centralisation of Media Rights. "I am sure the clubs want this Centralisation, and the Government enacted it because the clubs decided so. Firstly, my concern is: does it have the potential for increasing revenue? I am sure that the improvement will happen, but I have some doubts as to whether it will result in more revenue. We cannot build on 2015 figures, we have to take into account the current juncture," he said. "Regarding the centralisation process, I am sure there are more advantages overall than the individual negotiation process, but the difference lies in the details. The one criticism I make is about the kind of revenues that are being projected based on the 2014-15 entitlements which are wildly unrealistic," he added.
However, Tiago Madureira highlighted that Media Rights, although important, are not the only source of income, particularly in the bigger clubs. "The revenue sources of the biggest clubs are founded on media rights, but they are much lower in terms of percentage than in small clubs. UEFA's revenues today have a much bigger impact than media rights. I stress, we are not taking a single euro from the clubs, but the importance of revenues, which will double in the new post-24 cycle, will mean that the asymmetries will be even greater," he said.
Pedro Brinca made a comparison with the Netherlands. "This is not a one-up competition, we are in included two competitions, namely Europe and Portugal. Why is it that in Portugal, with 10 million inhabitants, has systematically managed to be at the top of the ranking with less revenue than countries like, for example, the Netherlands? The issue at stake is competitiveness, taking money away by centralisation and redistribution will lower international competitiveness", an opinion with which Tiago Madureira disagreed.
"When you start looking at the criteria in the UEFA rankings, a win in the Champions League is worth the same as one in the Conference League. Only the qualifying bonuses are different. This has affected the ranking completely. In 21-22, the Netherlands scored 65% of the points in the Conference League and for us 61% in the Champions League. How many points did we score in the Conference League? Seven points, 9%, but if we go to 22-23, we see that the same exact thing happens. They have 17% from the Champions League, we have 77%. 94% of our points have been won by four clubs. We have to create the right conditions for other teams to get points. Otherwise, the top clubs will be affected," he said.
Lastly, Luís Vicente guaranteed that "in Portugal, we have a unique opportunity to understand how to make a business that is sustainable for all clubs".
These Webinars will return in April, with four more sessions planned: 'The impact of operating and structural costs on club competitiveness', 'The role of district and regional football associations: building a talented League', 'Sports Betting - Reshaping the current distribution model' and 'Creating and retaining talent in Professional Football: a sustainable approach'.
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