SFL domestic and international rights tenders to go live on 14 September
By Jonathan Rest
The Swiss Football League is to launch its domestic and international media rights tenders for the next cycle beginning 2021-22 in a month's time.
The SFL said the process will be conducted in an "open, transparent and non-discriminatory process," with tender documents expected to be released on 14 September.
The tender will cover the elite Super League and second-tier Challenge League, including the relegation play-offs.
The SFL said the sales process will be open to TV networks, streaming services, telcos, cable operators and media rights agencies, and all interested parties can request the tender documents from the league via email@example.com.
The SFL can go ahead with the tender after its clubs emphatically rejected a proposal from FC Lausanne-Sport in late May to expand the Super League from 10 to 12 teams.
A month earlier the SFL had conducted a postal vote of all 20 clubs, with the outcome being that 10 clubs voted in favour of expansion and 10 voted against. Under the SFL's statutes, a two-thirds majority is required to enforce change.
Undeterred Lausanne-Sport put the issue back on the agenda, but the club's proposal was rejected by 14 votes to five, with one abstention.
Rights to the Super League and Challenge League from 2017-18 to 2020-21 are held by Teleclub, the pay-TV operator, in a deal worth around SFr32 million ($32.9 million) per season.
That figure rises to SFr40 million per season when international media rights (Sportfive) and sponsorship rights (InfrontRingier) deals are taken into account.
The SFL's hopes of significantly increasing the domestic pot were dealt a blow last month when rival telecoms firms UPC and Swisscom struck an agreement for their respective pay-TV sports offerings, MySports and Teleclub, to be carried on each other's platforms from this autumn.
The two have been fierce rivals since UPC launched MySports in 2017 on the back of its acquisition of exclusive Swiss ice hockey rights in a five-year deal, in doing so replacing Teleclub.
Swisscom was angered by UPC's refusal to open up its exclusive coverage to rivals, and was left frustrated when the COMCO, Switzerland's competition regulator, sided with the rights winner.
The SFL had been banking on the competition between UPC and Swisscom to get an increase in its rights fees.
Indeed, late last year, SFL chief executive Claudius Schäfer told Aargauer Zeitung, the Swiss German-language daily newspaper: "With the exception of the largest markets, you can see an increase [in media rights fees] everywhere in Europe. We are clearly assuming an increase. But if you take the audience numbers as a reference, we offer the best sports product in Switzerland."At just over two million a year, we have very high attendances in the Super League. If you compare the number of viewers with the number of inhabitants, we rank second in Europe."