BeIN ordered by TFF president to 'meet all contractual obligations'
By Jonathan Rest
Nihat Özdemir, president of the Turkish Football Federation, has called on BeIN Sports, the international pay-television broadcaster, to adhere to the terms of their five-year, $2.5 billion global media rights contract, with the two parties at odds over financial terms for the 2020-21 season.
Amid anger from a number of Süper Lig clubs, many of which have assigned broadcasting revenues to bank debts, sources close to the TFF and BeIN have previously told Sportcal that negotiations "have been calm" and that the TFF has even talked up the possibility of extending the contract beyond 2021-22.
However, Özdemir has now spoken publicly for the first time about the spat with BeIN and confirmed that a warning letter was sent to the Qatar-based broadcaster this week.
Following a three-and-a-half-hour meeting with Süper Lig Club Association chairman Mehmet Sepil this week, Özdemir said: "We have completed the first three years of our contractual agreement with BeIN Sports. We are now in the fourth year. Regarding our contract, unfortunately we have not yet been able to reach an agreement.
"BeIN has met all payment obligations in full in recent years. But this year only a 25 per cent advance payment was made. We distributed the TL500 million [$63 million] according to the rights of the clubs. We want BeIN Sports to strictly adhere to all contract details and fulfill all articles. In this regard, we already sent a corresponding reminder... What we are now waiting for and would like is for BeIN Sports to meet all contractual obligations."
He indicated that progress should be made in the next week.
Last month, Sepil, president of the Göztepe club, agreed reluctantly to stay on as chairman of the Clubs Association until the winter break, having initially tendered his resignation after growing frustrated at the way the TFF was handling talks with BeIN about the delayed rights payments behind closed doors.
Sportcal revealed last week that BeIN was to make a payment of TL134 million to the TFF, the second and final instalment of a special TL500 million package that BeIN and Digiturk, its pay-TV operator in the country and domestic Süper Lig rights-holder, agreed to pay last month in order for cash to flow through to the 21 top-flight clubs.
However, one of those clubs, the Istanbul-based giant Fenerbahce, slammed the relationship between BeIN and the TFF, claiming that, according to the terms of the contract, the rights-holder should by now have paid $140 million. It has instead paid $63 million.
While BeIN and Digiturk paid the $1 billion for the first two seasons of the contract in full, the first instalment of 25 per cent for the 2019-20 season was withheld, with Digiturk and BeIN demanding that the terms of the agreement be radically adjusted following a significant slide in the value of the Turkish lira.
The original contract stipulated that Digiturk paid the $500 million annual rights fee equally in US dollars and Turkish lira, but the lira's demise meant the broadcaster was facing shelling out considerably more for the rights than anticipated when that deal was signed in November 2016.
It was agreed that the US part of the contract would be paid at the spot exchange rate, which was 3.26 lira: $1 in November 2016, but reached a high of 7.4 lira: $1 before it was renegotiated.
In addition, the Turkish lira part of the deal was linked to the consumer price index and producer price index. While this was 2.26 at the time of the deal, it subsequently jumped to the 25 per cent mark before renegotiation.
The TFF, BeIN and Digiturk eventually came to an agreement ahead of the 2019-20 season on a reduced annual dollar figure, with all payments subject to a new fixed exchange rate, albeit the new exchange rate was never publicly revealed.
Sportcal understands that the revised contract has meant a drop of between $100 million and $120 million per season in rights fees paid to the league, and some Süper Lig clubs believe BeIN is now trying to negotiate that down further and pay around $250 million per season, half the original sum agreed in November 2016.