The Argentine Football Association (AFA) is at it again, and hopefully this latest meeting will yield better results than the most recent. This time it seems like they might actually be making some progress with this whole football fiasco. You know, the one where AFA is in desperate need of money and is hugely in debt? This time the main topic at the table is television rights. That is, who will have the right to play Argentine football games on the TV’s of millions and millions of people.
Argentine football has been quite a mess lately, with Daniel Angelici and Claudio Chiqui Tapia leading one side and Marcelo Tinelli and Rodolfo D’Onofrio leading the other. What’s the problem? Money, it’s always all about the money. The two sides can’t decide how to obtain enough money to pay off their hefty debt. On top of that, it’s a huge pissing match over who has more power within the AFA and who might be the new president of the problem ridden organization.
Egos inside, the main issue being discussed now is television rights. Just yesterday, ESPN came to Argentina to meet with AFA representatives at the Alvear Palace hotel in Recoleta. ESPN wasn’t messing around: they offered AR $3.2 billion per season with a AR $1 billion upfront payment, and also threw into the mix the alternative to negotiate other viewing platforms such as Internet streaming. But they had a few conditions, such as ending the “Fútbol Para Todos”(Football For All) state-run program and creating a public or closed bidding for the rights. Tinelli is a fan of ESPN and would like to do business with them.
Meanwhile, Angelici is on the opposite side of Tinelli and is reportedly thinking of selling the rights to a different TV station. He likes Turner-Fox, who has already offered AR $3 billion per season.
But now, there’s another player on the field trying to get their hands on obtaining the rights to Argentine football and it has completely changed the game. Consor, a North American company, is looking to buy the rights for a whooping US $336 million which, at today’s exchange rate of AR $16.12, is equivalent to AR $5.4 billion per season.
FThe fact that they are willing to make the payments in U.S. dollars in a country where the local currency depreciated by 40 percent last year, having the rights automatically updated as the U.S. strengthens before the Argentine peso is quite an incentive.
Seems too good to be true. Not only will the money help resolve some of AFA’s problems, but it might also get broken factions within AFA to start working together to find solutions to their never ending problems.
Although money is definitely the most important factor in AFA’s decision, the amount of time the companies will commit to their contract is also of great importance. ESPN said they would sign for 10 seasons; Turner-Fox said they would sign for 15 seasons; And Consor’s leasing time is unknown but they appear to be promising pick because they already hold long-term contracts with large organizations, like Adidas and the World Cup.
AFA has already decided that the process will be closed bidding and have “supposedly” said they will make their big pick the upcoming week. They will be looking at money per season, contract time and also how much money each company can pony up upfront. Hopefully, Consor’s new bid will help hurry the process, but since it is a closed bidding, there is no saying whether ESPN or Turner-Fox will raise their offers and make AFA go back to square one.
Whoever they choose, they have to make a choice soon because the Argentine’s favorite pastime is at stake and people need their football. It’s all up to AFA to decide what will happen to the world of football in Argentina and who will be the rightful heir to the country’s most watched sport.