Eurasian sports network Setanta will terminate its domestic media rights deal with soccer’s Ukrainian Premier League (UPL) two seasons ahead of schedule after just one year, it has confirmed.
The broadcaster announced yesterday (April 27) that it will bring its coverage to an end at the conclusion of the ongoing 2022-23 campaign, set to finish on June 3, because of what it suggested amounted to breaches of contract by various clubs in the 16-team league.
Setanta has said some clubs did not transfer the rights to cover their matches, as had been agreed when the contract was signed.
In a statement, it said it will continue to engage in dialogue with the UPL over a potential solution for 2023-24. The tie-up between the two parties was announced last August and was due to run until 2025.
It was the first time domestic UPL rights had been secured up by a single entity, with the awarding of the rights to Setanta voted for by a majority of participants, and the deal was set to be worth a total of $16.2 million over the three seasons.
In its statement, Setanta said: “Thankyou to the clubs that transferred the [TV] rights and supported Setanta Sports and the UPL in their efforts to create a single pool.
“However, within the framework of the agreement with the league, Setanta could not fully use the media rights; some clubs did not transfer the right to broadcast the matches organized and played by them to the UPL.
“In view of the above, Setanta Sports has decided not to renew the agreement with the UPL, but remains open to a partnership.”
The broadcaster said it is “ready to discuss new terms of cooperation, which will be based on fairness and compliance with all norms of the league regulations and laws of Ukraine” and that it is “confident that a compromise can be found, with which also parties will be satisfied with the agreement.”
Setanta has made matches available to watch on its linear channels – at least four live fixtures each week – as well as via its over-the-top platform and through its YouTube channel.
The latter site has been covering two matches live each week, as well as putting on every other game on a delayed basis.
Clubs have also been able to promote and post-match highlights on their own channels six hours after each game ends.
Last August, the UPL said that the move to allocate rights to one broadcast partner would “enable the UPL to raise the level of the Ukrainian soccer product.”
2022-23 is the first full UPL campaign since Russia invaded Ukraine’s eastern provinces in February last year, with the subsequent conflict having caused the 2021-22 season to shut down and the overwhelming majority of foreign players in the league to leave the country.
Although the UPL attempted to sell the media rights centrally for its last domestic cycle, 2019 to 2022, the plan ran into opposition from a handful of clubs who wanted to keep selling their rights on an individual basis.
This led to a dispute between Media Group Ukraine and 1+1 Media Group, two rival Ukrainian media conglomerates.
Before 2019, those broadcasters shared the rights to the league, splitting up deals with the individual clubs between them.
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