SAFA slams SABC's 'commercially viable' bid for Bafana Bafana rights
The South African Broadcasting Corporation and the South African Football Association are continuing to engage in a war of words over the rights to the national soccer team, with the public-service broadcaster claiming it submitted a "commercially viable offer," but the soccer body denouncing a bid that it claims is worth less than 10 per cent of the value of the previous contract.
The previous rights deal between SAFA and the SABC expired in April, but the two parties have been in talks for the past 12 months about a new contract. SABC has pleaded poverty in those negotiations, and it emerged in August that the broadcaster only had R26 million ($1.8 million) in the bank, while it owed creditors R694 million.
Ahead of tomorrow's match between Bafana Bafana, the men's national team, and the Seychelles in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, SAFA this week announced that the SABC would not be showing future matches because its "discourteous offer" was "so minuscule that it amounts to an effective no offer."
It also alleged the broadcaster was trying to "engineer the financial downfall" of the federation.
In response, SABC said in a statement: "The SABC would like to place on record that it made a commercially viable offer that would enable the SABC to deliver football matches to South African audiences on SABC platforms and this offer was rejected by SAFA. This follows the expiry of the previous contract between SAFA and the SABC. On the previous contract there were obligations and milestones which the SABC has met, including the payment milestones of that contract, albeit late given the SABC’s dire financial situation. In this regard, the SABC made full and final payment on the agreement as agreed with SAFA."
SAFA revealed in August that it was owed in excess of R50 million in rights fees from the SABC for the previous deal, with the broadcaster having missed a series of monthly R10 million payments.
SAFA claimed it was willing to renew the rights deal on the same terms, but that the SABC's offer amounted to less than 10 per cent of the value of the previous contract.
Acting SAFA chief executive Russell Paul told local media today: "We fail to see how an offer of R10 million for all Bafana Bafana, Banyana Banyana [the women's national team], under-20, under-23 and national competition is a reasonably commercially viable offer in anybody's language.
"Considering that for the past three years they’ve paid us R110m a year, so, the figure that they're quoting is less than 10 per cent. It's mischievous, it’s misleading to the public to say that they made a reasonable offer. I really cannot understand what they mean by reasonable."
The SABC said it will show the away game against Seychelles on 16 October, "since these rights do not reside with SAFA," and is even prepared to show tomorrow's game and the final AFCON qualifier at home to Nigeria on 17 November because "the outstanding SAFA obligations due to SABC from the previous contract are the two remaining 2019 AFCON qualifier matches... [and] the SABC has ensured that it met all its financial obligations to SAFA. The SABC is therefore prepared to broadcast the two remaining 2019 AFCON qualifiers."
SAFA's rage is fuelled by the fact that cash-strapped SABC has, in recent months, acquired rights to show one match per week from English soccer's Premier League in a sub-licensing deal with Kwesé Sports, the Econet-owned pan-African sports network, and agreed to become the rights-holder of Cricket South Africa's new domestic Twenty20 competition, which begins in November.