Sportradar takes legal action over data system in English and Scottish leagues
By Simon Ward
Sportradar, the international sports data firm, has formally commenced legal action against UK-based rival Genius Sports and Football DataCo, the company that manages the data of the English and Scottish soccer leagues, claiming that the system that came into effect for this season is anti-competitive.
Sportradar said it has taken this step “with reluctance” having hoped that “a fair solution” could be reached, and remains “open to the possibility of finding a resolution.”
Following a competitive tender, it was announced last May that Genius Sports had been awarded a multi-year contract by FDC to be its official and exclusive data supplier to the betting sector from the start of the 2019-20 season.
Under the licensing agreement, Betgenius, the company’s dedicated sports betting division, is now responsible for distributing live data from competitions including England’s top-tier Premier League and second-tier English Football League and the Scottish Professional Football League.
Companies can sub-license official data from Genius Sports, but Sportradar wanted to be able to collect its own data from matches, and, in a letter before action sent at the start of the season, accused its rival and FDC of “aggressively targeting” anyone else doing so.
It claims that the system put in place by Betgenius and FDC is in breach of UK and European Union competition law.
In a statement today, Sportradar said: “This legal action is embarked upon with reluctance and Sportradar has not taken the decision lightly. Sportradar had hoped to find a fair solution that enables it to build its own database and to compete effectively in the market, but that has not proved possible.
“Sportradar remains open to the possibility of finding a resolution. However, ultimately, Sportradar supports a competitive marketplace in which there is genuine choice between suppliers. This competition is vital for innovation, genuine product choice and fair pricing and we believe these elements are worth protecting. The step Sportradar has taken is focused on that outcome.”
Until this season, the data rights overseen by FDC had been held by Perform, the international digital content and sport media group, since 2013.
The dispute is being played out amid increased competition between data companies looking to supply information to the gambling industry driven by the growth in in-play betting, which relies heavily on live updates.
The firms do work alongside each other in other leagues, as evidenced by the three-year deals announced last week between European Leagues and Genius Sports, Sportradar and Stats Perform covering official betting data collection and supply rights to 16 leagues across the continent, which were awarded on a non-exclusive basis.
With regard to the English and Scottish leagues, Sportradar said on Wednesday: “Sportradar is, and has always been, willing to pay for access, and to be part of an integrated, accredited, and fair system of collection and distribution which enables competition. Sportradar believes that the system put in place by Betgenius and FDC does not allow for this outcome; and that the current arrangements are in breach of UK and EU Competition Law.
“This status is not only harmful to data supply companies like Sportradar, but also to the downstream market (bookmakers and their customers) where product choice is being restricted or removed in favour of an information monopoly. This is why Sportradar has now sought the intervention of an independent specialist tribunal in the hope that matters can be resolved fairly and equitably.”