Tebas ‘fascinated’ by Serie A proposal
Javier Tebas, the president of Spanish soccer’s top-tier LaLiga, has admitted that he is seriously considering an offer to head up Italy’s Lega Serie A, and will make a decision in the near future.
His admission in an Italian newspaper interview came in the same week that Serie A accepted an offer of €1.05 billion ($1.29 billion) from Mediapro, the Spanish sports rights agency and production company, to acquire the domestic media rights to the league from 2018-19 to 2020-21.
The 55-year-old Tebas (pictured), who has led LaLiga since 2013, has been mentioned in connection with a move to Serie A for a while, but it is the first time that he has addressed the subject himself.
He told Gazzetta dello Sport: “I have received an offer and I find the project very interesting. Now it’s about talking to my family. In the coming days we will make a decision together.”
Tebas is reported to have been offered a four-year contract worth €1.2 million per annum to move to Serie A, but it is claimed that LaLiga could match the sum in an attempt to convince him to stay.
Tebas’ contract with the Spanish league is due to run until 2021.
He said: “I love the challenge. Work does not scare me, rather it stimulates me. That’s why the Italian proposal fascinates me a lot. I think there is so much to do because I have known some clubs and I have studied the situation. The problem is another. We will see what my family thinks about the issue.”
While he has had run-ins with some LaLiga clubs, notably Barcelona, Tebas is credited with helping drive growth in revenues across the league, which, following a return to collective selling in 2015, now generates around €1.6 billion per year from domestic and international broadcasting rights, a figure he expects to rise to €2.3 billion in the next cycle starting in 2019-20.
This has not gone unnoticed in Italy where Urbano Cairo, the influential president of Serie A club Torino, said last month that Tebas was on a shortlist to become the league’s chief executive, saying, “he has done excellent things. In Spain, they earn a billion dollars by selling television rights abroad.”
Luigi de Siervo, the chief executive of Infront Italy, an arm of the international sports agency that is the agency adviser of Serie A, said last week that Tebas “is a great lawyer who has done an excellent job for Spanish football. We just hope he accepts the position.”
Mediapro bid successfully for the Serie A ‘Global Package’ contained in an invitation to tender for independent financial intermediaries issued by the league and Infront Italy, after bids from broadcasters (in a separate tender process) were rejected.
The league, Infront and Mediapro entered a negotiation phase after the Spanish firm’s initial €950-million-per-season offer was rejected, and Serie A club presidents have accepted the improved proposal, which the league is forwarding to the AGCM, the Italian antitrust regulator.
However, the news met with resistance from Sky Italia with the pay-TV operator and incumbent rights-holder planning to appeal the award, challenging the legitimacy of Mediapro’s offer.
At present, Sky Italia pays €572 million per season for rights to all 380 Serie A matches, while Mediaset Premium, the pay-TV digital terrestrial broadcaster, is effectively paying €373 million for 248 matches following sub-licensing deals between the pair.
Tebas last week addressed an alleged conflict of interest by denying a link between his son Javier Tebas Llanas and Mediapro president Jaume Roures.
He told Gazzetta: “It is not true that he sells advertising for shows managed by Mediapro. My son works for a company that produces a television programme aired on a Mediapro channel, but Mediapro has nothing to do with that company and in any case he does not sell advertising.”