Media mogul and vice-president of San Lorenzo, Marcelo Tinelli, who recently declared his candidacy for the upcoming AFA presidential election, has announced that he will head a committee made up of representatives of the country’s biggest clubs to negotiate the offer from media giants Turner and Fox to takeover the broadcasting rights for televising domestic Argentine football matches.
Two weeks ago, the co-ordinator of the soon-to-be discontinued Fútbol Para Todos (Football For All) Fernando Marin received an offer from the US broadcasters for $2 billion AR per year to take over television rights from the government. The government’s current contract with the AFA, which was set to run through to 2019, is worth around AR $1.66 billion per year. And while Turner and Fox’s current bid is an increase on current government funding, the figure is still not enough, according to Tinelli, who was speaking on behalf of Argentina’s football clubs.
Tinelli made the announcement following a meeting in the AFA with Daniel Angelici (Boca Juniors), Rodolfo D’Onofrio (River Plate), Víctor Blanco (Racing), Nicolás Russo (Lanús), Eduardo Spinosa (Banfield), José Mansur (Godoy Cruz), Raúl Gámez (Vélez Sarsfield), among others, together with Armando Pérez y Javier Medín, representatives of the AFA’s normalizing committee.
Two weeks ago, when news of the offer first broke, Pérez seemed confident that the deal would go through, but only after the approval of the clubs who are the official owners of the broadcasting rights. How naive he was. Tinelli is now set to enter negotiations with the Turner and Fox, heading a committee made up of representatives from Boca, River, Racing, Huracán and Lanús.
Back in July, the government offered to increase their funding for Fútbol Para Todos to AR $2.5 billion per year. That offer was rejected by football clubs, who submitted a letter demanding the government give up its broadcasting rights and look for a new deal.
Having rejected that offer months ago, we can expect the newly formed committee to demand a significantly greater figure that Turner and Fox’s current bid.
“The broadcasting rights of Argentine football have a great value and to ensure that the adequate value is paid we have to be very well prepared for this meeting [with Turner and Fox] so we know exactly what it is we’re asking for,” said Tinelli. Besides the sum of pesos itself, Tinelli also stated that the length of the Turner and Fox’s contract offer, 15 years, is too long. “We can’t sign a fifteen year contract when in Spain or England, they make 3 or 4 year deals”.
Tinelli also suggested that Turner and Fox would not be the AFA’s only option, alluding to the possibility of other imminent offers. “I believe it’s likely that we’ll receive proposals that have not yet been formalized. I don’t know if the interest is as clear or concrete as it is with this offer, but there are certainly interested parties.”
And Tinelli also addressed issues concerning the government’s imminent withdrawal from its contract with the AFA. Although it was requested that the government should terminate its contract and allow broadcasting rights to be taken over by a private corporation, Tinelli stated his belief that their withdrawal from the contract, set to run three more years, should entail some form of compensation. “We will also try to talk to the government about compensation for the Fútbol para Todos contract,” added Tinelli. “It was the government’s decision to end the program and we need to sit down and talk. We’ll find a way for the contract to end.”
If Tinelli’s announcement is anything to go by, we’re likely to see a lot of developments in the coming months and weeks. After all, this coming February the new season will begin and Fútbol Para Todos will be no more. A new deal will have to be in place by then. Whether it will be will Turner and Fox or one of the unnamed “interested parties” remains to be seen.