Pi­rate chan­nel threat to clubs’ TV deals

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Tom Mor­gan

Bournemout­h and Wat­ford have been warned they face fi­nan­cial dis­as­ter if a Saudi Ara­bia-backed broad­caster con­tin­ues to steal hun­dreds of mil­lions of pounds in Pre­mier League TV rights.

Yousef Al-obaidly, chief ex­ec­u­tive of bein Sports, out­lined the risks for top-tier clubs with smaller sta­di­ums if he has to rene­go­ti­ate or even pull the plug on rights deals in the next three-year cy­cle.

Rogue broad­caster Be­outq, which can be picked up around the world, has been steal­ing and repack­ag­ing broad­casts from Qatari-based bein Sports for two years. Arab­sat had de­nied the pi­rated broad­casts were be­ing car­ried by its satel­lites, but bein Sports claims it has been left bil­lions of pounds out of pocket by the op­er­a­tion.

Al-obaidly had pre­vi­ously told The Daily Tele­graph that bein could be forced to walk away from its deal with the Pre­mier League un­less the sit­u­a­tion is re­solved. Up to £650mil­lion of rights pack­ages for UK sports – the ma­jor­ity of which ends up in Pre­mier League clubs’ pock­ets – could even­tu­ally be at “sig­nif­i­cant risk”, he said.

Yes­ter­day, ad­dress­ing del­e­gates at the Lead­ers Week Lon­don 2019, he warned of the knock-on im­pacts of clubs heav­ily re­liant on TV deals.

“A rights holder will tell you we want a lot of mar­ket cor­rec­tion in the in­fla­tion of these rights if this piracy con­tin­ues,” he said. “And if you look at Pre­mier League clubs, if you take Wat­ford or Bournemout­h, the rev­enue they get to­day mostly comes from broad­cast rev­enues.”

Broad­cast rev­enues “thanks to the deal with Sky in Europe” is up to 90 per cent of their to­tal rev­enues, he said, “so if these rights are sold non-ex­clu­sively, broad­cast­ers will not just find that amount of money for the same price”.

“If we don’t do any­thing about piracy, you will have quite a value of re­duc­tion in rights,” he said.

Last month the Pre­mier League, Fifa and Uefa claimed to have new proof that the big­gest piracy op­er­a­tion in sport­ing his­tory is the work of be­outq, which is op­er­at­ing with sig­nals trans­mit­ted by Saudi-based Arab­sat, a satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work. Arab­sat has been con­tacted for com­ment.

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