Relevent wins Champions League rights in the United States

One after another, the heads of some of the world’s biggest sports agencies descended on an auditorium in the basement of the headquarte...


One after another, the heads of some of the world’s biggest sports agencies descended on an auditorium in the basement of the headquarters of European football’s governing body. Along the way, they passed replicas of some of the sport’s greatest trophies, a sharp reminder of why they had traveled to UEFA’s offices on the shores of Lake Geneva to offer large sums of money. money to some of football’s most powerful officials.

On sale this week in November? A rare chance, the first in 20 years, to bid for the rights to one of sport’s most prized properties: the Champions League.

For two days, groups armed with slides and projectors presented a group that included not only the UEFA management but also representatives of Europe’s top clubs, who, for the first time, were allowed to participate in the process. After three rounds of bidding, UEFA and the European Club Association, its partner in the venture, chose the winners.

Global rights went to the Europeans’ longtime partner TEAM Marketing, who now control the rights for a three-year cycle from 2024-2027, the first of an expanded Champions League that will include more matches.

The biggest surprise came from what they won’t control: the lucrative rights in the United States. These were won by Relevent Sports Group, the marketing company backed by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross. Relevent prevailed after saying it could secure at least $250 million for rights in the United States, around $100 million more than UEFA competitions currently delivering there.

Relevent and rivals like IMG, Octagon and Endeavor-owned Infront Sports & Media also bid for worldwide rights, which are estimated at $5 billion per season. TEAM, according to people familiar with the bidding process, was selected because it agreed to reduce its commission on the sale of the rights and because it has dedicated staff to begin sales immediately. .

A formal announcement of the new rights deals will be made next week, following a meeting of the UEFA board. The European Club Association’s board was briefed on the selections at a meeting in Munich on Wednesday.

UEFA, Relevent and TEAM all declined to comment on the deals, which were part of an unexpected collaboration between European officials and some of the continent’s biggest clubs just months after some of those same teams tried to form. a breakaway Super League.

After two decades of frustration and as clubs grew increasingly concerned that there was money left on the table, the club association finally pushed UEFA to put the rights on the market. In the past, the Champions League deal was rolled over into a new deal with TEAM, a company that historically only had one client: UEFA.

Nasser al-Khelaifi, ECA chairman and president of French club Paris St.-Germain, and ECA chief executive Charlie Marshall joined a UEFA contingent led by the UEFA president, Aleksander Ceferin, to hear pitches late last year.

A final decision on the winners has been made after a January 25 meeting of their new joint venture, UCC SA This company will grow in importance in the coming months: a new management team is to be installed which could reduce the need for intermediaries like TEAM and Relevent, and give clubs even greater influence over the commercial operations of competitions that generate hundreds of billions of dollars in television and sponsorship revenue each season.

For Relevent, the deal is the latest chapter in its effort to pivot to a new strategy focused on selling premium football rights after a decade in which its most prominent asset was the International Champions Cup, a tournament annual off-season that has faced top European clubs in exhibition matches across North America, Europe and Asia. But it also comes amid a significant rise in football rights prices in the United States; the Premier League recently agreed a six-year deal with NBC worth almost $2 billion.

In 2018, Relevent signed a 15-year collaboration with Spain’s top league, a deal that essentially turned the company into a La Liga business operation for North America in exchange for a guarantee that it could generate revenue. business valued at a minimum of $2 billion over the life of the contract. Three years later, Relevent negotiated an eight-year, $1.4 billion rights deal with ESPN for La Liga games, then secured another $600 million from broadcasters in Mexico and America. central.

From now on, his relations with European football can only deepen. Relevent has courted UEFA to add its name to its off-season tournament business, which has lost an estimated $100 million since its inception in 2012.

With the Champions League deals in place, UEFA and the club association are likely to enter a protracted period of wrangling over how revenue from the sale of rights will be distributed, with the biggest teams being likely to demand a larger share than they currently receive. .

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Newsrust - US Top News: Relevent wins Champions League rights in the United States
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