Friday, 5 January 2007

Calls for collective TV rights

Italy's antitrust authority, which investigates unfair competition and abuses of market position, urged the football authorities to work towards a return of the collective selling of television rights among Serie A clubs.

The government-backed regulating body believes Italy's top flight will be more competitive if the money from television is distributed in a fairer fashion.

"The system of sales of television rights and the distribution of money accentuates the economic disparity between the big and small clubs," said a statement issued by the Antitrust authority after an investigation into the business dealings in Italian football.

"The return of collective television rights would ensure a much tighter championship. There needs to be more cooperation from the clubs and more dialogue between the FIGC and the Lega Calcio."

The Lega Calcio handles the day-to-day running of Serie A and Serie B but answers to the FIGC, Italian football's governing body.

Since 1999, clubs have been able to negotiate their own individual deals, giving more economic muscle to the bigger clubs such as Juventus, Milan, Internazionale, Lazio and Roma.

The less fashionable clubs are offered far less money by broadcasters as their matches attract much smaller audiences.

Last season 14 Serie A clubs threatened to boycott matches against Juventus, Milan and Inter after a proposed reform to the existing law governing tv rights was blocked by the then Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

Berlusconi happens to be the owner of AC Milan as well as television company Mediaset, one of the three broadcasters which cover Serie A matches.

Less prestigious clubs like Chievo and Livorno are estimated to bring in a tenth of what Inter earn in tv money.

The antitrust authority said they would also like to see the end of the January transfer window. They believe it gives an unfair advantage to the bigger clubs who are in a better financial position than the smaller teams to strengthen their squads.

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